Congressman Puts Forth Resolution To Protect People Who Videotape Police

from the good-for-him dept

We’ve noted recently that police and the courts have been regularly abusing wiretap laws to arrest people who are videotaping or recording police, claiming that they’re violating two-party consent laws. The most famous case, of course, is the motorcycle rider with a helmet cam, who is facing jailtime for recording an off-duty, ununiformed police officer who jumped out of his car with his gun drawn. These situations are clearly not what such laws are designed to protect. Instead, it appears that the police are using them to intimidate and block people from legally recording police activity in public places.

Apparently all that press attention is starting to get noticed. Michael Scott points us to the news that Rep. Edolphus Towns has introduced a Congressional resolution protecting those who film or photograph police in public.

It’s just a resolution, rather than an actual law, but if it passes, hopefully, it will give the courts the ammo they need to toss out these ridiculous lawsuits.

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Comments on “Congressman Puts Forth Resolution To Protect People Who Videotape Police”

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Jay (profile) says:


That’s the odd thing…

In public we’re supposed to have an expectation of being filmed anywhere. That should go to police as well.

But if it’s the police, somehow they’re held to a different standard where they can’t be filmed. We had one cop that was caught on camera but nothing happened to him. I doubt for a second that police aren’t prone to mistakes but damn, when are we going to stop the double standards?

Rick says:

I always wondered...


I’m looking at my phone and my camera, I can’t seem to find any wires. So, how does this law apply in the first place? Wasn’t it supposed to be about taping PHONE conversations?

Also, what is the difference when a citizen tapes an incident with an officer and if the news does it? Does freedom of speech not apply to the citizen in the same situation?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“It’s just a resolution, rather than an actual law, but if it passes, hopefully, it will give the courts the ammo they need to toss out these ridiculous lawsuits.”

Mike if I am remembering correctly its not a lawsuit, a lawsuit is civil.

A civil lawsuit, the victim brings a case for money damages against the offender or a third party for causing physical or emotional injuries. A criminal case is filed by the prosecutor charging an individual with committing a criminal act.

So these cases would be criminal prosecutions.

out_of_the_blue says:

"give the courts the ammo they need"...

There is ZERO basis for a charge against anyone recording police in the first place. They’re public *servants* whose *every* official act is legitimate only by the authority granted by the public for our benefit, not petty kings. But nearly always prosecutors and judges are complicit in enforcing arbitrary tyranny, supporting police regardless of all else — because they’re all in the SAME GANG CALLED GOV’T. That’s the de facto system, the “actuality” as higher courts call it, not de jure, or statutes.

Just more evidence that people need to learn common law and insist on all rights and due process, not blindly accept “authority”, though it carries a gun.

Rooker (user link) says:

The more adamant a police officer is that he shouldn’t be recorded while on-duty, the more necessary it is to make sure there are cameras rolling. First, to make it absolutely clear to him that he cannot escape being held accountable for any unprofessional behavior. Second, to see what he’s doing that he doesn’t want anyone to know about while we’re paying him to do it.

I remember years ago, a Highway Patrolman (in Tennessee, I think?) was using a remote control for a DOT traffic monitoring camera to ogle drunk college girls on the sidewalk downtown. He kept zooming in and out to get a better look at them. The less dressed they were, the tighter he zoomed in.

He was caught because he didn’t realize that the camera feed was broadcast to a local cable company’s public access channel and somebody noticed all this. The head of the state’s DOT was outraged and confiscated from the Highway Patrol all of the controllers for DOT surveillance cameras.

The Highway Patrol flatly refused to release the name of the officer in control of the camera or to punish him in any way. A couple of lawsuits were being threatened to make the HP take action but I don’t know if anything ever came of it.

Joe Authority says:

A few bad apples?

I think this is a great idea. While I have a careful suspicion of government, I think that, as in most cases in life, the people in charge are mostly well-intentioned people just trying to do the right thing every day.

But without the tools or permission to watch the watchers, the bad apples that do exist will not get caught, and that’s a bad thing.

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