New Hampshire Police Charge Man With 'Wiretapping' Because He Made A Phone Call During Traffic Stop

from the you-can't-be-serious dept

We’ve covered the disturbing trend of police, prosecutors and the courts to abuse wiretapping laws to charge people with “wiretapping” for recording police in public. The latest such case is even more ridiculous than most. Found via Slashdot, it involves a guy charged with wiretapping the police during a routine traffic stop, because he made a phone call, to which a voicemail system recorded the call at the other end. The guy who was arrested, William Alleman, had just left a gathering of libertarians, meeting in support of an arrest of a local restaurant owner. The police were apparently waiting outside, and Alleman claims he was followed. As he got pulled over, he called the phone number of an answering service for Libertarian activists who are “in trouble with the police” and then used that to record the call. The police claim this was illegal wiretapping.

This is, of course, patently ridiculous. Recording a police officer as he has stopped you is not and should never be considered a crime. The police in Weare New Hampshire should be ashamed of themselves for flagrantly abusing the law to intimidate people from exercising their own rights. All the more reason for laws like the one proposed in Connecticut that would punish police for preventing people from recording their interactions with the police in public.

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Comments on “New Hampshire Police Charge Man With 'Wiretapping' Because He Made A Phone Call During Traffic Stop”

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51 Comments
Casper says:

Re: Re:

He comes off as a tin foil hatter, worried that the police were “waiting for him”

Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you. The ironic part about this is if they HADN’T arrested him, HADN’T charged him with wiretapping, and HADN’T done it right after the meeting, he would just be a crazy nut. Now he is a crazy nut who was right, which makes him less crazy by default and the basics of scientific deduction.

Police should be considered public officials and traffic stops should be public meetings, that way this nonsense becomes a non-issue. It’s pretty obvious that if the police officer can record the conversation as a public meeting so can the driver.

Sean T Henry (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m not sure if this cop has a dash cam but mot all cars do I have been pulled over three times and only one of them had a dash cam.

Also the article did not say that the dash cam was not working in this case for HIM but in the other wiretapping case.
“Police also claim dashboard camera videos of her arrest aren’t available because the equipment wasn’t working that night. Hipple said police don’t have maintenance records to prove the cameras weren’t working.”

Thomas (profile) says:

Very important..

that you not be allowed to record (video or audio) what happens during a traffic stop; the police do not want a recording of any kind if they decide you are a jerk and drag you out of the car and beat you with steel batons.

The police often feel they have every right to beat you or arrest you if they feel you are not properly subservient.

And the police still wonder why people do not trust them and do not want to help them.

Judy g (profile) says:

Re: Very important..

I like the way you said that infact, 99 percent of crime reports are ignored and or shuffled. Our tax dollars pay for these police who abuse their positions and this country should not accept not one bad cop! Even that puts us in danger by those sworn to protect. Hopefully, they wont kill me for saying that or kill you for saying that but then they can make it look like an accident huh.

Sean T Henry (profile) says:

Re: Re: The police record you with both video and audio...

Actually yes.
See http://www.rcfp.org/taping/quick.html for information on if you can record a conversation. The federal law says that you must have the consent of one member of the conversation but if the state law is stronger then it is what is enforced.

New Hampshire you need consent of all parties and if not then: “However, it is only a misdemeanor if a party to a communication, or anyone who has the consent of only one of the parties, intercepts a telecommunication or oral communication. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann ? 570-A:2-I. Misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment up to one year. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann ? 625:9.”

So when pulled over he should have stated that he was recording this conversation and asked for the consent of the officer. If the officer says no he cannot, he should have simply stated that “I also refuse to consent to being recorded by a party that is not myself.”

Alternatively he could have requested to have a second officer to be called in to witness the traffic stop.

After challenge the charges and press additional charges against the officer for wiretapping if the box is checked that the car has a video camera recording the stop.

Dead Julius says:

his blog is here. It should also be pointed out that the recording incident occurred in July 2010. Last month, Bill made a video recording of a NH State government hearing on making it explicitly legal to record public officials in the performance of their duties. It was only after this hearing, and after Bill released the video he made of it, that he was finally arrested.

The Weare, NH police department is corrupt… so corrupt, in fact, that its boss made some baseless accusations of child pornography against one of political enemies, forcing the accused to ask the local DA to clear him (and he was indeed cleared!).

Mongo (user link) says:

Re: Question

The tavern owner had been arrested by police previously. The meeting was in support of the owner, not his arrest, which is a whole different story that also reflects badly on the Weare Police. Additionally, there was another arrest on the same charge by the police (different night) where the attorney demanded the police video/audio of the arrest. They claimed the camera was broken that day. The attorney demanded the maintenance records. The police claimed they lost those.

For more info, Google Palmer’s, Weare, NH

The J says:

unacceptable!

I live a few towns away. I really think we need to buy video cameras, figure out this idiots schedule and follow him around recording everything he does until he finally understands that he is a servant of the people, not a master. And yes, we are allowed to record the police. They don’t have to like it, but it doesn’t mean they can make up laws to prevent it.
Keep an eye out you stupid thug, we will be watching you. The Live Free or Die state doesn’t put up with that kind of crap.

Berenerd (profile) says:

Where?

So, as I lived in NH for the majority of my life, I had to say that…
As far as the Weare police are concerned, they are Judge and Jury with no need for a lawyer because they are right. I got pulled over for speeding. When I fought the ticket the cop showed up slightly intoxicated. The judge shook his head and dismissed charges.

Anonymous Coward says:

the issue is two-party consent

The issue here is really one of living in a state that requires two-party consent for audio recording of conversations. Doesn’t matter if the other party is police or not… if you need two-party consent, you get their consent first, and if not, you are illegally recording the conversation. Interestingly, you still are able to videotape something without consent, as long as you aren’t recording sound.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: the issue is two-party consent

Are dash-cams recording the conversation or just video? They are in another vehicle, at least a car length away, while the officer is talking through your window into your vehicle… I doubt the audio channel has anything useful on it. But that’s an interesting question whether someone audio taping you is giving implicit consent to be taped BY you.

Anonymous Coward says:

#39 I’ll drink to that.
This thing is turning into a stasi police state.

The Weare police targeted this guy, plain and simple. Was he charged with any crime at the stop or given a ticket for any violation? Plus the police knew he was on the phone and knew someone was listening. The person on the other end could of been recording the call. I do know that the police had been targeting and harassing patrons of this establishment. This was seemingly an attempt to drive away business from the shop owner, which is why the libertarians were there supporting him. One could argue that the police had a grudge against people supporting a local guy, who is handicapped, I might add. And targeted one of the people leaving. Who also happens to be big on recording police.
Popcorn? The Weare police also recently stopped an old lady that was leaving the same place. She blew a 0.0 but the police talked her into coming down to the station to blow again. She still blew a 0.0 at the station and somehow they impounded her car. Thats at least how I heard it.
These police are thieves and deserve a night in lockup.

Jeff says:

Absurd.

The police and those who write the laws are constantly saying ‘If you have nothing to hide’

What is it that the police are truing to hide? Aren’t they public servants? What is it that the cop in this case is afraid of being caught doing? The double standards that abound for the gun weilding sociopaths and the rest of us are absurd and need to be eliminated. Cops should be on the record, every moment of every shift. Unless they DO have something to hide like most of us think and realize they do.

Ben Levitan (profile) says:

Wiretap might stick under NH law

I’m an expert in wiretap (patents and I was on the team that developed the system that caught Blogo). In most states, to record a call you only need one party consent. That means if the driver knew he was recording, it would be ok. But the problem is that NH is one of a handful of states that requires that all parties on a recording consent to being wiretapped. That said, it stinks.

I’d say it’s the cops responsibility to check for guns and tape recorders.

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pinbalwyz (user link) says:

implied consent when THEY give notice

I live in Washington (2-party consent) State. But many companies and agencies (especially the Social Security Administration) open with a recording stating your call may be monitored OR RECORDED before you even get a chance to say hello to the receptionist when they eventually get to you. I’ve looked closely at RCW 9.73.030. Given ANY ambiguity is supposed to be construed in favor of the citizen (and I don’t believe it’s even ambiguous) I’m convinced that YOU can (and should!) record the call since SS has already given notice the call is being recorded. Washington State law is silent on the matter of just WHICH party must give notice.
I couldn’t find any case law in Washington State on this specific point.

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