Bullshit. There would be no complaints if some of them weren't incriminating abusive cops.
Notice how many of the cases against photographing are in potential (or blatant) police-abuse situations. The public and the government should be applauding citizens for helping to maintain control, not punishing.
- if you have nothing to hide, why do you care about being videotaped?
- we want you to be videotaped for your own protections...so that a scumbag citizen doesn't sue the department by making things up.
The cynic in me worries that it would work out this way instead tho: As video of the cops being douches becomes commonplace, people just come to accept it, and it becomes difficult to file a complaint because the official response would be "oh cops are just douches, you shouldn't have gone outside if you cared". Worse, the public attitude would be the same, therefore not voting for, or even voting against, rules holding cops accountable.
Honestly, I see this as a publicly-run oversight committee. It should be hard to be a cop - a lot of power and respect goes with the title (typically). And if there are fewer abusers, that's likely to increase.
it got that department a ton of positive publicity
right now the only times you hear about cops is when they do the bad stuff.
Sometimes I want to be able to say to organizations: "I would love to support your cause, but not if it means I have to deal with all your crap afterwards!"
I think that's just going to leave me donating money to my alma mater, which actually has to worry about it's overall budget (in a lot of non-profits someone's making serious money sending out all that stuff, e.g. the NRA's PR firm has outright captured it in a weird twist on public choice regulatory capture).
Is it ever possible to donate anonymously?
After edit: Another HN thread a while back recommended the book Arrest-Proof Yourself: An Ex-Cop Reveals How Easy It Is for Anyone to Get Arrested, How Even a Single Arrest Could Ruin Your Life, and What to Do If the Police Get in Your Face
which I greatly enjoyed reading and which my son is reading this week. There is a lot of good information there about how and why to stay out of trouble with the police.
You're welcome; I'm very glad to learn that someone with your background believes it to be good (I don't have any formal legal or law enforcement background).
According to the Terrorism Act you aren't allowed to take pictures of police if the pictures might be of use to a terrorist - which seems to have been translated into a blanket ban on taking any pictures.
Like many, I've followed Radley Balko's articles for some time and have a growing sense of paranoia/constitutional outrage regarding false arrest. I think there are a couple of interesting phenomena here. Some folks may not like the two ideas below but I offer them as a conversation starter for understanding what is happening instead of just venting outrage (which is cool too).
1.) Growing ubiquity of recording equipment formerly thought of as "surveillance equipment.” In the not distant past, very small cameras were specialty equipment only available to certain people. In that time, the common thinking was that a person should have some highly-motivated intent for using such stuff because it was very expensive and if you weren't in law enforcement or a PI, then your use was probably not for good.
2.) Law is complex and large, so law enforcement uses some heuristic of propriety instead of actual laws. My impression is that law enforcement people contain a large but not all-encompassing menu of crimes and use some form of pattern matching to compare the behavior of other humans to this menu. Since it is inefficient to compare every rule to each encounter with other people, law enforcement people use the general feeling they get from an encounter to first signal that something is "wrong" and then guide them to a particular item from the crime menu or reach into the foggier area of laws off their personal menu.
Fitting idea 1 with idea 2, it makes sense that there would be an unofficial "war on recording" by law enforcement as the propriety value of the law heuristic is driven in part by cultural values which in turn are slowly influenced by technology. In this case, technology change has occurred more quickly than many people’s sense of probity.
To be more exact, the problem is that instead of facing a speeding ticket or (at most) a misdemeanor traffic violation, he's going to have to fight a charge that could carry 16 years of imprisonment.
I love devil's advocate, so I'll say this just as a way of keeping things in perspective: not a lot of folks would want people videotaping everything they did at work and putting it on YouTube (along with criticisms) I know it would drive me nuts.
Society as a whole is going to have to go through some major contortions as people get their heads wrapped around the idea that everything -- and I mean everything -- is going to be digitized and recorded. Cops are pushing back first, but I expect lots more professions to have problems with this as well. A huge shift is going to be that most folks are going to learn exactly what policing is all about. Overall I think this is going to be good, but hell if I'd want to have to live through the changes if I were a policeman.
Did you know if you get a Top Secret clearance, you have to have anything related to your work release reviewed for the rest of your life? Being awarded privileges by the government comes with additional responsibility. Videotaping the police is the same as monitoring people who work with classified information; it's just part of the job. If someone is uncomfortable with that s/he should find a different job.
PS: If that's the case it seems like cop/cam might be a marketable product.
I'm not sure that this is true.
"Use of this or any other DoD interest computing system constitutes consent to monitoring at all times. . . information placed in this system is not subject to any expectation of privacy."
It just comes with the territory. Some jobs are more private, some are more public. Bank tellers, customer service reps, talk show hosts, members of Congress. They all get recorded routinely while working, and for different reasons.
Seems to me police interactions are a natural thing to make part of the public record.
Not a lot of folks carry lethal weapons as part of their job. Not a lot of folks can land you in jail as part of their job. As the ones authorized to use violence and lethal force in order to do their jobs, they should be subject to additional scrutiny.
That said, I'm much less concerned about videotaping cops on the street and more concerned with VPI -- videotaped police interrogations. Unlike videotaping cops on the street, they'd mostly be to the benefit of poor & minority suspects rather than tech-savvy twentysomethings who enjoy protesting as a lifestyle. The imposition on the cops is minimal (since the interrogation is theoretically under their control) and the justice gains are huge, and this can be compellingly sold to the cops as in their best interests. (You'll clear more cases with less court time because routine videos of lying perps will cause most of them to take the freaking deal like you want them to.)
Perhaps the question is: what parts of police activity shouldn't be videotaped and published, and why? Undercover busts maybe. You can't spend five years growing a policeman into what looks like a drug dealer only to have him outed on YouTube in ten seconds. Or do we get rid of all undercover police work?
Need to think about that some more.
1. I'm not saying that drugs themselves have to be legal. I think our current policy of punishing drug use is the bad thing. If drugs are to be illegal, the sensible thing is to punish production and sale. Then you can develop a dynamic where a user who wants to get clean can get some kind of reward for turning in a dealer. Then dealing becomes less attractive because there's a higher likelihood of being caught. Rehab the users, punish the providers makes more sense to me than Just punish everyone.
2. The original point was the idea that it might be a bad idea to video tape undercover officers. I think we've managed to stray from that a bit. I don't think we should concern ourselves with worrying about such video taping: either the criminal organization already cares about such things and can get that information readily, or they don't care and getting video taped once isn't going to change anything. Getting outed as an undercover agent pretty much destroys your chance to do that again, anyways, regardless of the presence of video taping (which I wouldn't expect to actually happen much in practice in these kinds of cases).
That is what happens today. Professional informants are paid to buy drugs and get the seller arrested for dealing. But because it's not that easy to find real dealers, they more often convince other users to sell to them. Someone who doesn't normally deal gets hit with a dealing charge.
As to the matter of videotaping undercover drug cops: this is really nothing to worry about. Drug dealers are not video taping their transactions. Citizen videotaping is something people do when they don't think they are doing anything wrong and they want evidence of possible police wrongdoing.
When there's no legal repercussion for turning in your dealer, only the most marginal and violent types will bother to be drug dealers, raising the price and violence of drug dealing, I would expect.
You watch too many movies. Such groups are extraordinarily rare, and it's even rarer that they'd be around long enough to actually infiltrate. The only real examples are organized crime, and almost universally a "man inside" is not an undercover cop, but a former member who's changed sides.
I'd pay $300 for a device I could just forget about until I needed it. If I recall correctly, video cameras without sound do not violate most wiretapping laws.
On the server there are 2 ways to access the video, the owner's password or a law enforcement key that could be accessed with proper court documents.
The other thing I was thinking, it's clearly an owner protection device but if you had some sort of encoded radio signal like they use to change the traffic signal lights. All of the cars in an area could be used to help when there is an Amber alert or some major crime was happening.
For a moving violation like that, why does a gun need to be drawn? Was there a threat of violence or just stupidity? The motorcyclist stopped on his own, right?
I'm a mild-mannered introvert. I have a rust belt near-midwest accent and the benefit of an east-coast Ivy League education. Yet, I have had traffic cops escalate levels of hostility on me even though I am doing my level best to be polite and cooperative. I've also noted that some policemen like to arbitrarily order you around, even when you aren't causing trouble. I've read something about problem steroid use in police causing mood disorders and excess aggression, and this seems to fit very well. I also suspect that this is also connected with my having long hair and being non-white.
I'm envisioning huge video walls like in The Dark Knight...
She slammed into me at about 65. I was doing maybe 30. It was a hell of a wreck. Thank the stars nobody got hurt.
At the time she was very apologetic, humbled, and embarrassed. She was crying -- it was quite a sight. The trooper wrote her up, and I gently made sure the trooper noted that she said this was her fault.
Three months later when the court date came, it was a different girl. By then she had convinced herself that we were at fault -- she was not speeding or doing anything wrong, we had pulled out in front of her without giving her time to slow down
I honestly think she didn't feel like she was lying. Memory is just a funny thing.
I wish we had one of the cams you're talking about. Seems like there is a tremendous need for them (hint! hint!)
Better if I don't think about it too much.
She may not have been, at least as far as she knew. Memory is a funny thing.
Memories are malleable when they're active -- when the event has just happened, and each time it's recalled thereafter. They can be expanded or changed if new information is prevented, especially when it comes authority figures... such as alternate theories from parents in denial that their little girl could be so careless. Each time a memory is recalled is an opportunity for it to change, and surely she remembered it many many times over those three months.
Another thing is that as memories change, they tend to become more ordinary ('schematic', in psychology lingo). Dropping your cell phone and plowing into a car is not a normal thing, but people get cut off all the time. It's easy to imagine something like that happening, so it's natural that the memory would change to fit a scenario like that.
It's not directly related, but to give you an idea of how radically memories can be changed, this is a video talking about a study where they created a memory from scratch. It's called the 'lost in the mall' study, and it's a fairly famous study in memory research: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQr_IJvYzbA
And I've seen enough authority friendly atrocities, ones that don't break down neatly along 4-1-4 "conservative"-"Kennedy"-"liberal" lines, that I'm not even close to 100% sure the Supremes will do the right thing, assuming they even deign to hear such a case.
(On the other hand, the two cases I was most thinking of, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_v._Michigan and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London do break down that neatly ... except the sides flip. I would cite http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McConnell_v._Federal_Election_C... but I don't even want to start to break down who voted how.)
That said, anyone who takes legal advice from a photographer/developer on an internet forum deserves what they get.
That is precisely one of the things that give me the shivers about the society today. I understand Mr. Graber's motivation. I also agree wholeheartedly that the "reasonable expectation of privacy" rule has to be applied consistently, i.e. if a police officer can videotape me over the course of his or her work, then I should be allowed to videotape that officer.
That said, what gives me the shivers is that our expectations of privacy, in general, seem to be sliding down a slippery slope of justified surveillance. The first time I read "1984", I was still in school (not even university yet) and it etched itself onto my mind precisely because it's so damn plausible. Everyone would love to think it's impossible because "we would never stand for it", but things keep changing slowly.
A commonplace example is your workplace, where your employer can monitor all your activities on their computers (and I mean all, not just network communication), record your business phone calls or videotape you. Also, it has become commonplace to have to do a drug test when applying for a job.
Another example is the highway toll system here in Santiago, Chile. Certain highways require you to have a device installed in your car to transit them. Instead of waiting in line at a toll booth, your device communicates with a gate under which your car passes and your billed monthly. Every gate also has cameras to record cases of infractions, when a car without the device passes under the gate.
Sure, there are laws and rules that control how all this information can be used. Yet it keeps creeping me out to think that this information is available to multitude of people. Now that information of all sorts can be shared easily and readily on a global scale, it seems even scarier. Now you can be embarrassed, humiliated, falsely accused or harassed literally in front of the whole world.
What creeps me out even more is that our expectations of privacy seem to be eroding slowly. If we're so indifferent to being under surveillance in public or at work because it makes it easier to prove who's right and who's wrong, why does it seem so implausible that in some future we would accept the same things in our homes? After all, wouldn't it help cut down on domestic violence and child abuse?
I hope I'm not coming across as a borderline paranoid nutjob, but I just felt the need to address the issue.
The rules for recording police should not be symmetrical. Anyone should be allowed to record police, but the police should not be allowed to record without good cause.
Recording police serves the same function as the press, the right to bear arms, and the right to due process and a jury trial: it keeps the government under the control of the people. The police recording the public serves the opposite end, it enables the police (government) to control the people.
An analogous situation is recording legislative hearings. We expect to be able to watch our politicians pass laws in the legislature. We want to keep an eye on them. But we don't allow the government to install cameras in our workplaces.
In the 50s they thought the future would be nuclear everything.
In the 30s they thought the future would be flying everything.
At the turn of the century they thought the future would be electric everything.
During the industrial revolution they thought the future would be steam everything.
Only this time we think the future will be information everything.
At least they're on their way towards actual production. Again.
Perhaps that's where balance lies.
It's insane the degree to which people are willing to record and distribute every little bit of their lives. And by insane, I don't mean a good thing.
The techno-wonks will tell you that it's all evolving to some kind of wonderful singularity nirvana.
But do we really want to become The Borg? Because either we either fiercely keep our lives and thoughts private and personal, or we share everything. Right now there's middle ground, but it's eroding quickly.
Seriously. I don't think most people have a clue to how they are giving up their personalities and inner lives or what impact this is going to have on the world.
It's like boiling the frog. Each year we share more and more -- first blogs, then tweets, then FB status updates, then location-aware tweets. Soon it will be lifetime webcams that you wear. Each little step folks come out and try to say something like "gee! It's getting hot in here! The water is going to boil!" but then they get shot down with a variation of 1) it's just a small change, and 2) it does more good than harm.
Water's going to boil soon, folks. Hope you like it that way. 'Cause there is no stopping it.
(It's like if we all got super-powers over the space of 50 years. People think super-powers would rock, but in reality the world would go into the shitter. People would be flying all over the place, knocking of banks, etc. It would be a catastrophe. But it would happen so slowly that there wouldn't really be a moment that you could point your finger at and say there! There is the place where we crossed the line. It's always little good, little bad, works for some folks, sucks for others, etc)
It may be a great thing that we're moving towards. But it's not going to be human.
Stupid people do stupid things. Always have and always will. The difference now is just the scale and how far their stupidity can travel.
If you get off on worrying a more interesting thing to worry about is what role governments are going to play. The more technologically we advanced the less we need them. Of course they don't like this at all. Today we've been saved because they (a) haven't fully grasp what e.g. the internet means and (b) where they have, they haven't been "tech savvy" enough to do anything about it. Both of these will change in time. What's going to happen when they decide to try and roll everything back a few notches after we've all gotten used to the convenience?
Personally I think it will work out in the end because it always has so far (and I can't do much about it in any case) but my scenario has more potential for trouble than yours I think.
The mere idea of omnipotent God is enough for us to labor until we manage to create one. And I believe it will be achieved through Brain Computer Interfaces and massive networking. We won't be able to retain our individuality if our population keeps on increasing - something will have to give. Also I believe this will be a golden age of Man.
However I won't be one of the first to get BCI and I will also resist sharing my privacy with total strangers as long as humanely possible. Why? Because nobody can be trusted and I enjoy being unknown.
> Water's going to boil soon, folks. Hope you like it that way. 'Cause there is no stopping it.
If you really believe that, then are you just waving your arms and one day you can point back at this post and say "See? I saw it coming."? It still baffles me how much people accept things that are bad (for example, death) with no hope of changing them.
EDIT for a bad sentence structure. And then a typo.
It comes down to reasonable expectation of privacy. If anyone is doing work in a public place, it doesn't matter if they are police officers or trash collectors, they don't have any expectation of privacy.
The 1984 comparisons are bogus. 1984 was about total surveillance as one of many tools of a totalitarian regime. The cameras in 1984 weren't just out in public, they were in everyone's homes.
If you want to do anything privately, do it in a reasonably private place. Problem solved.
It's an interesting question though.
As it turns out though, there is an easy way to avoid the difficulties of police work, and that is choosing a different career.
Apart from the laws that protect other rights incompatible with perfect knowledge.... As a maxim, justice should never hide from evidence.
In Poland you can record policeman on duty (provided that he does not work under cover at the time). Also police cannot routinely record you during for example being pulled over to check your driving licence.
That said practice is that policemen routinely record citizens on such occasions and try to make life miserable for the people who record them by even arresting them on false pretenses.
Still; it is an extremely bad reaction even so.
The thing that shocked me most was.... he drew his gun. Are things really that bad that a traffic stop requires a drawn weapon? Jesus :(
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Obscured: probably. It's a helmet-camera, so it's likely small, and may not appear as such at first glance.
But still. One's behavior should not change when being recorded, especially not a cop.
The last time I was pulled over for a traffic violation the officer refused to shake my hand because he needed it free to be able to draw his weapon(or so he claimed).
I feel like traffic stops are also a disproportionately high number of police actions.
Depending on the area, yes, go for your gun. But don't lead into a situation with it - I'd be willing to bet it makes things worse, and it certainly comes off as hugely off-scale.
I don't agree with this dude getting prosecuted for releasing the video tape, either -- just saying, it's a dangerous job, and cops aren't perfect but sometimes they're right to be careful.
HC RES 298 is directly related to this issue. If you have a congressman on the House Judiciary Committee, you should be chewing his ear off on the phone, by email, or better still in person!