back to article Police cuff citizens for videotaping arrests

Since the police beating of motorist Rodney King in 1991, men in blue have looked warily at the civilian videotaping of arrests and other police activities. Some cops are so opposed to the practice, they've begun arresting the amateur videographers and charging them criminally. According to this article published by the New …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Francis Boyle

      Did you actually read the article?

      The police are using a law intended to prevent the secret recording of private conversations to prevent the entirely legal practice of recording in public places. Read the linked article if you are in doubt. The charges aren't holding up in court. (Or to be precise, according to the court, secret recording in public falls under the law - overt recording is entirely legal.)

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    I blame the advertizers

    The superbowl is coming up.

    Ads in the superbowl cost a $gazillion / minute

    By removing the line "land of the free" from the nathional anthem they will have an extra 15secs of ad time which will earn a quarter-gazillion$ thus lifting the US out of recession.

  3. John G Imrie
    Black Helicopters

    Like 11 other states, Massachusetts is a two-party consent state,

    I hope the police in these 11 States never video demo's then.

  4. Keith T

    We need to start putting the real criminals behind bars

    And those real criminals are the police, police managers, and crown prosecution service members who facilitate, hide, condone, hide and and shelter from prosecution illegal threats, unlawful assaults, armed assaults, kidnapping of law abiding citizens.

    Police who who kidnap citizens into unlawful custody should serve appropriate prison sentences for the crime they've committed: kidnapping.

    Police who prevent citizens safely at a distance videotaping arrests should serve appropriate prison sentences for obstruction of justice.

    How can we expect ordinary street criminals to obey the laws when our police forces are staffed with criminals?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I must say...

      ...that here in New York, I haven't had the slightest reason to complain about the crown prosecution services.

      1. Richard 120


        The post is required, and must contain letters

  5. John Ridley 1

    simple solution...

    mute the audio. Plug a dummy plug into the microphone input on the recorder. Or run the audio level to zero. no more problem. Most states STILL haven't caught up to the 70s, and only audio recording is covered by law.

    If the officers REALLY want the video to be circulated without the audio, they're fools. I bet most of the time the audio give them more justification for their actions, rather than less.

  6. Jim Preis
    Big Brother

    Welcome... Unamerica.

  7. SirTainleyBarking

    Nothing to hide......

    Ah why bother?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    May I be the first...

    .. to quote the classic NWA song title in response to this further example of the expansion of the police state, 'Fuck Da Police'.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Switch sides

    Resign from the US and join the EU instead! We'll protect you!

  10. Inachu


    If your main intent is to film police then you should get their permission first.

    But if you are filming puppies and a cop just so happens to walk by and get angry that you accidently filmed him then that cop needs to be fired.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Police are supposed to be public servants - this consent should be automatic.

      While they are on duty their actions should be justifiable even if recorded. The only time it should be restricted is if broadcasting their action could damage another case - a tiny proportion of the time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      the LA cops would have given permission to film them beating Rodney King?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Indeed they should have

        Possibility 1- they record it and show it to no-one. No-one ever knows it existed, so it has no effect on anything.

        Possibility 2- they record it and use the vid to brag to friends, colleagues. It's then confiscated, stolen, copied, etc and sent off to the papers by someone who will see it and think "bloody hell, that's wrong..."

        So either nothing would happen or it'd aid the prosecution... not too bad a set of possibilities.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Security cameras

      So security cameras are no longer allowed????

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        you forgot something..

        security cameras do not record audio - so are not covered by the laws (same applies in the UK). If they did record audio then permission would have to be sought - or something along those lines anyway...

  11. Coyote

    There ARE bad cops who don't want to be caught on film...

    The real issue here is illegal surveillance of the person(s) under arrest.

    On-duty police serve the public and are subject to any and all monitoring that doesn't endanger the officer. In other words, no surveillance of undercover cops, and it doesn't take a genius to realize why.

    However, when it comes to recording arrests, persons in police custody still have rights, including the right to privacy. Quite often people who get arrested are not charged, the charges are dropped, or they are found innocent.

    If you were arrested would you want a video of it floating around YouTube forever?

    I can't believe no one has pointed this out yet.

    1. TimeMaster T


      So, your saying its alright for them to arrest a by-stander with a video camera and charge them with a felony? Instead of the officer walking up to aforementioned by-stander with a video camera and saying something to the effect of "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to stop recording and erase the video you have already recorded to protect the presumed innocence of the person we just arrested. Thank you for your co-operation."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So

        The law's saying it's OK, bright spark. In fact, if it's the law it's pretty much demanding it, no? And given the attitudes of people here, I'd say it's unlikely people would comply with a simple request anyway, because Evil Pig is obviously just trying to cover stuff up. More likely to pull some stunt to appear to erase it, because Evil Pig is just too dumb to understand that modern tech stuff. So, better for compliance with the law to just nab 'em. Make sure it's erased at the station, unless the defendant gives permission (assuming that's OK after the fact.) Kudos to coyote for pointing out another side of it, though. People here are too busy showing off they've read 1984 to do more than just mindlessly lambaste the police regardless. As for the people making the clever points about security cameras and police filming demos - it's a question of what the law allows, isn't it? That so difficult to follow? Really? And don't bother trying to say I'm defending cops who do wrong - I'm not. Simply pointing out that blaming the police as a body is pathetic.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    AS far as i'm concerend

    Anything carried out as a representative of the state / in an official governmental role should automatically be public and automatic consent should be irrevocably given for all parties interacting with said representative.

    Of course, when they stop acting in an official capacity then said automatic consent will not apply.

    This should be the case except where such things can be a threat to national security. in which case video feeds should be made, kept private and reviewed every x months until a judge decides that there is no longer any national security reason for keeping it private.

    First though, we'd need to get in more Judges with common sense and a government that will listen to it's people... so I suspect all this is just fantasy.

  13. Robin Bradshaw
    Black Helicopters

    Expectation of privacy??

    Whatever happened to the ruling that you have no expectation of privacy in a public place?

    I thought that was well established in US law.

  14. chris swain

    Bet that DC copper

    ...who pulled a gun in that snowball fight recently wishes he had thought of this!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Uh-huh. Bad move or what?

    Transparency, accountability, responsibility and right.

  16. Christopher Martin

    If it's illegal, it's illegal...

    "Had I recorded an officer saving someone’s life," he said. "I almost guarantee you that they wouldn’t have come up to me and say, 'Hey, you just recorded me saving that person’s life. You’re under arrest.'"

    Yeah, that's because if the cop saved someone's life, you'd probably have two-party consent. It's not hypocrisy - it's the intent of the law. If someone videotaped YOU saving someone's life, you probably wouldn't complain either - but if someone showed up at your office and started filming you while you work, you might very well call the police.

    1. The Flying Dutchman

      Public vs Private

      In a public place - which is were you'll be most likely to come across a cop - you'd not normally have an expectation of privacy.

      My office on the other hand, is a private place.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "but if someone showed up at your office and started filming you while you work, you might very well call the police."

      Yeah, that's because I work for myself at home as a private citizen and not a public servent who is responsible to the people that I serve and am supposed to protect!

      Maybe you would prefer it if the police went around all the time wearing face masks and no visible ID, like they do when preventing (sorry, policing) a peaceful protest.

      That old hated mantra of "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" most certainly DOES apply to the law and civil enforcement agencies.

      If you disagree, then why not go and spend some time reading up on what happened in East Germany for a start. Muppet.

  17. Stephen 2

    Brighton, UK

    I was stopped in Brighton, UK and forced to either delete a video clip I took of cops arresting someone or hand over the phone. The officer told me it was now evidence and those were my options.

    1. The Flying Dutchman

      Cops were wrong here

      and if you'd have taken it to court you could have had the cops' balls for breakfast. Most likely you would have to go all the way to up the European Court, but still...

      Cops can't take your phone from you, can't touch it, aren't allowed to delete footage. That's the law.

      You should have continued to record the cop's stating your "options" and get a shot of his ID number too - which he would have been required to supply on your request anyway.

    2. Stef 4


      "I was stopped in Brighton, UK and forced to either delete a video clip I took of cops arresting someone or hand over the phone. The officer told me it was now evidence and those were my options."

      So the police told you to destroy evidence? Nice.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You remove the memory card and hand it to the officer... there is no need for the phone to be handed over.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's cock

      *IF* was evidence then you would have been committing an offence if you deleted the video and plod would have been committing an offence in telling you to delete the video. PACE would certainly take a dim view of a police officer tampering in any way with potential evidence.

      I'd be somewhat puzzled as to how a video of an arrest would be considered evidence unless of course the video showed a criminal act being committed, perhaps resisting arrest or an unlawful arrest.

      However a court may consider such video unacceptable as evidence since it might be difficult to prove a secure chain of custody.

    5. EvilGav 1

      Then . . .

      . . . the cop was an idiot.

      If it was evidence, you wouldn't have the choice to delete it, as that would be destruction of evidence, which is a crime in and of itself.

      The police don't even have a right to view what you have recorded. They can arrest you, which would allow them to seize the camera, but they'd need a reason to arrest.

      What they should have done, was ask you to delete it to protect the identity of the person arrested, as it's not clear at that point whether the person will be prosecuted or not.

      1. Richard 120

        Never met one that wasn't

        Sad state of affairs, but I've never met a nice copper, or one with an iq beyond the teens.

        1. lee7


          Pathetic! Coppers are like the rest of us. Theres good and bad both in each individually, and as a body. I am certainly no fan of the police in their "Law and Order" guise, but you are being extremely silly to imply that all police are stupid and unpleasant. Maybe you're young and prone to arrest? In my 47 years, I've met plenty of police who were in the job to help people. To suggest otherwise, whether you are a fan of the police or not is just plain stupid. Unfortunately for the police, one bad copper does taint our perception of them all. I've met a few obnoxious bas****d coppers in my time, but actually would say that on the whole, they do a good job, often under extreme provocation. Of course, the job does appeal to a certain type of bully, but equally well it appeals to the sincere, helpful and good people you sometimes meet. I've had a standup row with a copper on the street. He didn't abuse his power and arrest me just because we disagreed. Oh, I could go on, but this one-sided black and white view of the world is just so juvenile.

      2. The Flying Dutchman

        Protecting the identity of the person being arrested...

        The cops could ask you to delete the footage for this reason, but they certainly cannot force you to do so.

        If you'd publish the footage without pixelating the face of the person being arrested (and/or take other precautions as may be required to avoid the person being identifiable), this person might sue your ass off and he'd most likely win if he does so. This would of course require that the person who published the footage be traced, but that's not necessarily impossible to do.

    6. arwel

      Cops destroying evidence

      If it really was evidence, then in making you delete the clip the cop was guilty of destroying evidence and should have been reported; if it wasn't evidence, then he had no right to make you delete it anyway. In the UK the police have NO legal authority to insist on the deletion of pictures or video without a court order.

  18. Eddy Ito

    No "Consent"

    "Consent" has nothing to do with Federal law. The Fed. law refers to "notification" not "consent." Massachusetts law, as stated here , prohibits interception which is nullified by notification. In essence, the Mass cops can bugger themselves if they think their consent is required for recording. California cops should brush up on the definition of "confidential communication" and then bugger themselves also.

    Half an ice day!

    1. Captain TickTock


      > Half an ice day!

      "Half an ass day!" surely?

  19. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Stephen 2: the police asked you to destroy evidence?

    Did you film that?

    The police are scary. It's in the job description. "Must be scary, must have very large feet." But it's like keeping intimidating dogs, if they turn on you there's not much that you can do.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    If you have nothing to hide..

    Indeed. At least, that's the excuse used when they insist on getting your encryption keys in the airport. So, if the officers have nothing to hide, it's no problem to record them.

    Paris, coz she ain't got nothing left to hide...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Remember the stories about photographers being stopped or arrested in the UK. Remember the posts from the septics saying "we'd never put up with that here in the land of the free." Oh really?

    As long as your leaders tell you that you don't live in a police state you believe them, dont' you? The land of the free and the home of the terminally gullible more like.

  22. adam payne


    As people in a position of power are fond of saying if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear. So what have they got to hide then?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    How about an arrest chain...

    10 While (nobody is being arrested)

    20. Wend

    30. Let N=1

    40. Observer N records latest arrest

    50. Plod arrests observer N

    60. N=N+1

    70. Goto 40

    1. The Flying Dutchman

      Goto 40

      Considered harmful :-)

      1. lpopman

        titular appendix

        Nah, the goto in this case wouldn't be harmful. Its destination is within the same function, and isn't even breaking out of context. The stack is not touched whatsoever, in this case ;)

  24. Snert Lee

    Reasonable expectations

    IANAL, k? And, the devil's in the details, as they say, but...

    The whole thing seems to hinge on the concept of reasonable expectations. As suggested by the phrase "two-party consent", the law against secret recording came from folks who, having participated in a one-to-one conversation on the phone, or other private setting, and believing that in that scenario they had a reasonable expectation of privacy, had their expectations upended by the other party, or some third party, making audio recordings of the conversation. In other words, it protects private individuals who believe they are conducting private conversations from having their expectations abused.

    However, a police officer, as a public servant who, among other functions, is tasked with creating public documents, tickets, citations, incident reports, arrest reports, etc., would have no basis for forming a reasonable expectation of privacy in the execution of the officer's public duties.

    Audio vs visual recording, concealment of microphones, etc. are just red herring issues for derailing the logic train before it pulls into Common Sense Station.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021