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Message sent is that citizens should not be able to monitor the public actions of officials they employ

"If you don't give me your ID, then you're going to jail."

That's what a California cop, Officer Gabriel "Gabe" Lira, tells a man who is videotaping a routine traffic stop.  For Daniel J. Saulmon who lives in Hawethorne, a suburb of Los Angeles west of Compton, he was simply doing his citizens duty.  After all, his taxes help fund the Hawethorne Police Department, so why shouldn't he be allowed to record video of police in public on the job, in order to ensure that they do not abuse their citizen-entrusted power?

I. Show Some ID, Bud

Unfortunately, the Hawethorne Police Department's police officers didn't feel they owed the taxpayer anything.

Instead they arrest him (as the tape clearly shows) for failing to produce ID.  The only problem?  There is no law in California banning recording of on-duty cops and there is no law that requires Californians to produce papers to cops.  And in states where there are such laws, the requirement is that the individual be suspected of committing a crime.

Initially the HPD tried to charge the citizen with resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer -- an offense punishable for up to $1,000 USD in fines and a year in jail.  They also cited him for not having reflectors on his bike pedals (punishable with a fine of up to $250 USD).

Ultimately both charges were dropped.  Mr. Saulmon's video, ironically, offered vindication by showing the officer improperly demanded his identification. It also showed he was standing a good distance away from the investigation site, and hence was not obstructing.


The extra irony is that the HPD officers should definitely have known better than  to pick on Mr. Saulmon.  Keenly aware of his rights, he regularly records local arrests.  In 2005 he was arrested in a similar situation for eavesdropping/wiretapping.  The charges were eventually dropped, and the HPD paid him a settlement of $25,000 USD for the wrongful arrest.

Mr. Saulmon is likely to pursue a similar settlement from the department this time around.

He tells the blog Photography is not a crime, "They knew exactly who I was.  They always address me as ‘Mr. Saulmon'."

II. Justice for Some, But Not All

While the incident ended in vindication for the accused, other similar encounters across the country ended with little reprieve for the arrested videotaper.  That's because some jurisidictions have banned citizens from recording local cops.  The fight to overturn these verdicts may have been given a helping hand by the U.S. Attorney General, who penned a fiery response arguing that such arrests were unconstitutional.  U.S. Circuit Appeals courts have ruled such taping to be well within a citizen's rights.

Some police organizations are still fighting to push back the current federal mandate and instead making taping cops a federal crime.

Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, argues that officers should not have to be held accountable and should be free to arrest citizens who try to monitor their activity for wrongdoing.

Officer blocking camera
The Frateneral Order of Police says citizens should not be allowed to hold cops accountable when on the job in public. [Image Source: ACLU]

He comments, "They [police officers] need to move quickly, in split seconds, without giving a lot of thought to what the adverse consequences for them might be. We feel that anything that's going to have a chilling effect on an officer moving — an apprehension that he's being videotaped and may be made to look bad — could cost him or some citizen their life or some serious bodily harm."

Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, agrees.  He has stated in previous comments that his organization "absolutely supports" throwing those who tape police officers behind bars.

He complains that citizens monitoring police activities for wrongdoing might "affect how an officer does his job on the street."

Sources: YouTube, Photography is Not a Crime



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RE: all part of a pattern
By superstition on 11/26/2012 4:16:33 PM , Rating: 5
I forgot to mention, also, the continuing expansion of the crackdown on public demonstration/protesting. "Free speech zone" corrals weren't good enough for the herd, apparently. Now, the new bills, when put together, effectively ban all public protest.

https://www.google.com/search?q=protest+secret+ser...


RE: all part of a pattern
By superstition on 11/26/2012 4:18:32 PM , Rating: 5
And, last, but not least — the expansion of the prison industry, courtesy of our friends at ALEC.

Prison labor is the new outsourcing.


RE: all part of a pattern
By PrinceGaz on 11/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: all part of a pattern
By MechanicalTechie on 11/26/2012 11:48:43 PM , Rating: 4
You seriously think that every member of Law Enforcement does the job for the right reason.. like every other agency or industry people will abuse their position and power.

If they have nothing to hide then what is the problem? I'm on camera from the second I leave my front door to the time I return and I dont have a issue with it.

Seems hypocritical for the snorts to monitor my every move but we can reciprocate while they are in the public domain?


RE: all part of a pattern
By GotThumbs on 11/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: all part of a pattern
By GotThumbs on 11/27/12, Rating: 0
RE: all part of a pattern
By CalaverasGrande on 11/27/2012 12:17:35 PM , Rating: 5
That is a false equivalency. The police are responsible for enforcing the law, and use deadly force in some cases. No matter how badly anyone screws up the network or an individual computer at my job, deadly force is not an option.
Nor is it an option for me to jail anyone, or to extract information from suspects. Most of us do not have jobs like this. We simply do not have the power to infringe on other citizens rights the way police officers do.
I would like to think that you make this poor analogy because you are fortunate enough not to have been on the receiving end of corrupt police attention.
I grew up in the deep south, and live in Oakland Ca. So I have some passing familiarity with what police abuse of power looks like.


RE: all part of a pattern
By Adonlude on 11/27/2012 5:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
I too have been on the receiving end of abusive Jack Booted Thugs. Many JBT's will lie so that they can perform an illegal search. They will even go so far as to play Judge Dread and assault you when nobodies looking if they think you are guilty. Police need to be monitored and we need to fight to reverse the police state that is forming. Most cops act like they are some special privilaged class of citizen and that has to stop. Police are the same as citizens only they have a couple extra legal protections, some of which they shouldn't even have. Citizens can carry guns, citizens can arrest, the only difference is citizens don't have blanket legal protection if their arrest is bogus.


RE: all part of a pattern
By michael67 on 11/28/2012 3:08:34 PM , Rating: 2
Personally i think a video cam should be mandatory for every cop that on the job, it has huge benefits for both sides.

- There is no question of (intentional) wrong full testimony of eider side.
- Complaints against the police go down if people see there own behavior.
- Cops also behave better according to the law.
- Conviction rate go's up with stronger evidence.
- Questionable actions can be judged in the right light(*)

(*) In case of for example, of a police officer shooting a unarmed suspect, did the suspect behaved like he was reaching for a gun or not, as now it often comes down to police testimony.

In Holland its not illegal to videotape a police, what is illegal is publishing it out of context.

Like putting up a video of a cop only hitting a suspect, but without the sequence of events before the cop hit the suspect, like kicking and spitting or what ever fiscal or verbal abuse preceded it.

Having police waring a video cam all the time when they are on the job would imho clear up many misunderstanding and ensure that at least the cops behave them self's in a way they are suppose to do, and as long as they behave properly they also have a better defense against wrongful accusations of misconduct.

We had on a central bus station, after a report of a armed man walking around, a officer shooting a unarmed north African man, for two weeks the officer was accused of misconduct in the newspaper.
Police shooting don't very often happen in Norway, so it was pretty big news.

But after 2 weeks some one that had bin on a holiday trip came back that had videotaped the incident on his mobile, ware you clearly could see the guy not following armed police instructions, and reaching in his pocket, even after the police warned the person in Norwegian and English to stop or they would shoot.

IMHO there would be only one winner with police waring cam's all the time, and that would be the truth.


RE: all part of a pattern
By GrammarPolice on 11/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: all part of a pattern
By GotThumbs on 11/27/2012 1:14:48 PM , Rating: 1
While I agree my spelling is not perfect, it has zero to do with the subject matter and your attempt to deflect the one-sided/prejudiced stance of this "News" story shows your inability to intelligently address what is the most important thing. Focusing on my spelling is about as intelligent as you hosing down the mailbox when its your house that's on fire. Misdirection is for people who can't debate at the same level or can't truly justify their point of view.

If all you can contribute is spelling critiques, then your input is of no real value IMO.

Best wishes on your GrammerPolice tasks. I just hope no one depends on you having to contribute anything substantial.


RE: all part of a pattern
By dark matter on 11/27/2012 4:46:44 PM , Rating: 2
Just be thankful he isn't the real police, he would have you arrested for what you've just said, as you're acting in an aggressive manner towards a police office.


RE: all part of a pattern
By GotThumbs on 11/28/2012 10:11:07 AM , Rating: 2
I fully understand that many of you will never get it or even see the other side of this "News" story. Ignorance is not a cold that can be cured in a week.

Any time I've been pulled over or interacted with a police officer during an accident investigation, I've never had a problem with police. If you treat people with respect and are mature enough to take responsibility for YOUR choices/actions (If you were speeding, don't get pissed at the police that you got caught), then life is much easier/pleasant for you and those around you.

The biggest problem (IMO) with many in today's american society, is simply a lack of self-accountability. I already know some/most of you will not agree, but I understand that. Because some/most of you are not adults and choose not to face the consequences of your own choices/actions in life. Its always someone else who is at fault for your issues/life failures. I understand that many of you who have a strong disdain
quote:
Disdain: The feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one's consideration or respect; contempt.
for the police and that you have been victims all your life and the police are simply picking on you. Its much easier to blame others for your failures than to take responsibility yourself. Children often use this excuse as well.

Just don't be so ignorant to think that you deserve a greater level of respect from people, when you clearly fail to show respect for them. If you do, then you will continue to live your life as a victim.

Best wishes,


RE: all part of a pattern
By ebakke on 11/28/12, Rating: 0
RE: all part of a pattern
By GotThumbs on 11/28/2012 2:19:08 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You have absolutely no idea what (if any) experiences any commenters here have had with police officers


That is an accurate statement,

BUT, I am also VERY, VERY, VERY confident that YOU and most of the commenters here have absolutely no idea what each/any police officer experiences daily/hourly while at thier job.


My main point was that people need to show some honest respect and understanding for these human beings. Police are not supermen or superwomen who are immune to bullets, knives or speeding cars. Each officer knows their life is at risk each time they go to work. How many of the commenters here today deal with that level of risk on the job. Do you have to worry about someone attacking/shooting you each time you meet with someone while working?

I'm not saying the police shouldn't be filmed, but when you have one or more "concerned citizens" swarming around the police scene, it can distract the officer's attention away from what they need to be focused on, and thus put their safety/life in jeopardy.

I realize that most people wouldn't think of this, because they are only thinking from their own point of view. Just speak with a police officer about some of their own experiences or just look through some YouTube videos of officers who have been attacked or shot during a stop. The problem is YOU, the citizen have no true understanding of what goes on in your city each day. The media does not report on every crime, attack, murder.

Think McFly....and not just from your point of view.


RE: all part of a pattern
By ebakke on 11/28/2012 3:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Think McFly....and not just from your point of view.
You would be well served heeding your own advice.

You're also muddying the issue. No one here is arguing that individuals should be "swarming around the police scene" or putting an officer's "safety/life in jeopardy". We're not talking about interfering with investigations, or with an officer's ability to do his job. Obstructing an officer is already illegal. But an individual can do that with or without a video camera. Your current argument against videotaping is analogous to banning guns because some people killed others with them. Guns *can* be an instrument for murder. And a camera *could* be an instrument for obstruction. But both also have legitimate other purposes that should be protected. Further, laws should ban the act (murder, obstruction) and not the implementation (gun, knife, rope, etc).

quote:
BUT, I am also VERY, VERY, VERY confident that YOU and most of the commenters here have absolutely no idea what each/any police officer experiences daily/hourly while at thier job.
Agreed. And as I stated yesterday, I don't care. It doesn't matter to me. The police are tasked with enforcing our laws with whatever rules or restrictions we place on them. They are given special powers and special abilities that the average citizen is not so that they may perform these duties. But ultimately they serve at our pleasure. If we demand they perform their jobs under a microscope, that's within our prerogative as it is OUR power that we have placed in them. We may certainly take it back, or place more limits upon it.

And at the end of the day, if the job becomes too difficult, people will stop doing it. Then we, as the employer, will have to reevaluate our offer.


RE: all part of a pattern
By GotThumbs on 11/28/2012 4:04:52 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I don't care. It doesn't matter to me. The police are tasked with enforcing our laws with whatever rules or restrictions we place on them.


Enough said. You obviously believe police are sub-human adn are only here to do your bidding as you see fit. Do you kick dogs as well?

I'm done wasting my time here.

As I wrote earlier, Ignorance is not a cold that can be cured in a week.

Best wishes on finding a cure


RE: all part of a pattern
By ebakke on 11/28/2012 5:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You obviously believe police are sub-human adn are only here to do your bidding as you see fit.
No, I don't believe that. Stop putting words in my mouth, and read the ones I'm typing!

Acknowledgement of the relationship between a citizen and a civil servant isn't anywhere remotely close to the equivalent of me believing police are sub-human. Nor is it equivalent to violence upon another being.

Stop acting like a petulant child. It's fine that we have different opinions. The whole point of a forum like this is that we can share those opinions with one another. You keep stomping your feet and decreeing that anyone who doesn't think as you do is some ignorant fool. It's your behavior that's appearing foolish. Defend your positions. Counter mine. Screaming "I'm right, and you're wrong, POOPY HEAD!" is useless.

I leave you with this question, which I admittedly have no expectation you'll give a thoughtful answer: How are police, judges, politicians, and members of the military not here to do our bidding as we see fit? All of those groups exist to serve the public, do they not?


RE: all part of a pattern
By Piiman on 12/1/2012 2:39:03 PM , Rating: 2
The guy was standing far away and filming. The Cops broke the law and made up charges to justify arresting him.

Its a good thing he had film.

Yet you still support not filming cops? What did he do wrong? Did he insult the cops, did he even say anything? He only refused to follow an unlawful order. I say filming is good.


RE: all part of a pattern
By ebakke on 11/27/2012 5:35:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Best wishes on your GrammerPolice tasks.
Aww hell, now you've invited the SpellingPolice into this mess too!


RE: all part of a pattern
By MechanicalTechie on 11/27/2012 6:16:53 PM , Rating: 1
Firstly if you could see further than the end of your nose you would realise that by refusing to allow Law Enforcement to be taped your suggestion you have something to hide.

Secondary being filmed has no bearing on how you do your job unless they are physically obstructing you. You work in the public domain and hold powers that can alter the path of someone’s life so the public needs a way to protect itself against false allegations or brutality.

Thirdly like it or not Law Enforcement must lead by example but you think the best way to accomplish is to work in secrecy?
quote:
Your a fool if you think only police have some people who are bad
You’re a real Sherlock Holmes aren’t you... but if you re-read what i said. you'll find it says
quote:
'like every other agency or industry '
And finally, Yes there cameras at my work and I have learnt to live with it.


RE: all part of a pattern
By Schrag4 on 11/28/2012 10:46:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I wish to god that all police took one week sick leave....then you pansies would have lots to film.


People in the bluest states might face some difficulty, but a lot of us would be just fine for one week. I suspect if criminals decided they'd go on a rampage because they knew they had a week free of police, there would be a lot of dead criminals at the end of the week, in the freer states anyway.

Besides, you basically got your wish, it was the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. I remember seeing a news story about Sandy victims requesting firearms so they could ward off looters. Since police can't get to my house for several minutes (or longer, realistically), my wife and I will take our right to defend our family seriously. I'm continually astonished at people who think that dialing 911 when faced with those intent on killing you will do more than get the coronor's van there before your body turns cold, except in very rare circumstances.


RE: all part of a pattern
By Jeffk464 on 11/27/2012 12:29:31 AM , Rating: 5
Whatever happened to if you aren't doing anything wrong then you shouldn't mind be taped and spied on? I guess this only goes one way.


RE: all part of a pattern
By jeepga on 11/27/2012 9:04:16 AM , Rating: 2
Yes. I want to live in a world where people are free to do what they want. The alternative is living in a world where other people tell you what you can do.


RE: all part of a pattern
By RufusM on 11/28/2012 2:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
True freedom is anarchy and not many people want that.

I would argue that most people want reasonable laws that provide some recourse for harm and, outside of that, the freedom to do what they want.

There seems to be a growing number of people who want to limit existing freedoms under misguided notions that everyone needs to be protected from themselves.


RE: all part of a pattern
By RufusM on 11/27/2012 10:13:29 AM , Rating: 3
It cuts both ways. In a modern world, malicious surveillance of citizens by police is a problem and malicious surveillance of police by the citizenry is also a problem.

The difference is that police are powerful public servants and can legally use force to detain and imprison the citizenry so they need to be held to a higher standard


RE: all part of a pattern
By GotThumbs on 11/28/12, Rating: 0
RE: all part of a pattern
By RufusM on 11/28/2012 1:27:36 PM , Rating: 2
You and I are in partial agreement. Yes, there are many adults that chose to act badly. Those people face consequences from both the police/judicial system and society at large. After all, who wants to hire a convicted felon.

The difference I point to is a larger difference in the powers of the citizens and the police. A citizen cannot legally detain and imprison someone if they chose to, because they will likely be caught and punished for it. A police officer can work from within the police authority powers to detain, frame and imprison someone with a very small chance they will be caught and punished.

Again, both are acting maliciously and illegally in the examples but because the police are working from within the power structure, they have a much, much higher probability of getting away with it. Yes, police are held to a higher standard when performing their duties.


RE: all part of a pattern
By schmandel on 11/29/2012 10:59:35 AM , Rating: 1
Thanks for letting showing us how simple it all really is. What's it like to live in fear?


RE: all part of a pattern
By Samus on 11/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: all part of a pattern
By FayKnaim on 11/27/2012 12:53:21 AM , Rating: 2
What you are saying applies to private citizens. Police officers are public servants. Certain rights have to be waived or modified, just like certain rights are waived when you join the military. Even when you are going to a public high school, you loose certain rights.


RE: all part of a pattern
By FaaR on 11/27/2012 4:51:55 AM , Rating: 5
You have no expectation of privacy while in public. So you can't demand not be recorded while in a public place.


RE: all part of a pattern
By GotThumbs on 11/27/12, Rating: 0
RE: all part of a pattern
By ebakke on 11/27/2012 2:15:48 PM , Rating: 2
So, because I have a different opinion (which resulted from a different value judgement) I'm a closed-minded, selfish, irresponsible "victim"?


RE: all part of a pattern
By dark matter on 11/27/2012 4:48:25 PM , Rating: 3
What a pompous and arrogant statement.

Good grief, get over yourself.


RE: all part of a pattern
By RufusM on 11/28/2012 1:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
Generally speaking, he's right, in that people do not have a legal expectation of privacy in public. It is generally accepted that private citizens can reasonably monitor their own property, just like the government can reasonably monitor their own property and activity, such as cameras inside/outside government buildings. Now that doesn't mean the police have the right to install video cameras everywhere and electronically track citizens using facial recognition. US citizens have Constitutional protection against unreasonable search. Because of this is has been stuck down in many areas that government operated public cameras violate that Constitutional provision, but there are still many gray areas; it's not fully resolved legally in the US.

Stop light cameras/ticketing systems cross the line where a person is not able to confront their accuser since it is a device. There are many other arguments for this one, so it's off topic.

If people are buzzing around police and interfering with their duties, they are obstructing the officer which is already a crime in the US and the person can be punished for doing it. If someone is standing way back, not at all in the way, video recording an officer, they are not obstructing the officer. This is the problem. The laws banning otherwise lawful behavior are only applied when cameras are directed at the police.


RE: all part of a pattern
By Piiman on 12/1/2012 2:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
"I fully understand many (at least 47% ;_>) "

And what does that mean?
FYI part of the 47% which I'll assume you are speaking of are
1. Military
2. Retired people
3. People that work but get a refund instead of paying more tax.

So are you claiming these people are stupid because they either don't work any longer or don't make enough money or joined the military?

I know you lost the election Mitt but get over it and stop posting on blogs.


RE: all part of a pattern
By Scannall on 11/27/2012 6:09:01 AM , Rating: 2
The constitution says nothing about privacy. It isn't a constitutional right. The closet is the 4th ammendment, but even that isn't real close.

quote:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


If you are in public, then your permission isn't required. Bear in mind the police just recently won a case where the court decided it was OK for them to install video cameras on private property, to watch them for criminal activity.


RE: all part of a pattern
By KFZ on 11/27/2012 1:52:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'll cite some examples of this "war" on whistle-blowing/demonstrating (Bradley Manning and Occupy Wall Street, respectively), and let's at least make sure we're not in a reverse-witch hunt. It would be highly dubious to simply state the above were within their respective civil rights.

Manning stole military data he was trusted with and put it into foreign hands (an Australian man if I remember correctly), which turned into a political propaganda video that was little more than a biased, uninformed attack on the war and cast U.S. soldiers as civilian murderers (actual study of the video showed armed insurgents). Now call Manning what you'd like to, but he should not be exonerated for "good intentions" of data theft and leaking. Replace his identity with that of a real foreign spy and the only difference is motive. Crime, meet punishment.

Do we even need to break down the utter mess that was Occupy Wall Street? The bio-hazard tent city washed in filth that harbored crime within its shanty town and wouldn't leave for weeks? The occupying and blocking of entrances to business and commerce and general disruption of peace? I believe the civil thing to do is peacefully assemble, not eat all the cake, piss on everything and set the world on fire.

I'm 100% behind being able to watch the watchers, report crimes anonymously and peaceful assembly, but people are way, way too narcissistic and naive today that the message is lost in a sea of black and gray morality. Ethics and responsibility and decency are long gone, and that is what a lot of civil people are against. We're supposed to fight for freedom, but not like lawless animals, yet some will go to their deaths believing "by any means necessary".


RE: all part of a pattern
By superstition on 11/28/2012 3:32:05 AM , Rating: 2
Manning is certainly not the only whistleblower to feel the heat of the current war on whistleblowing... not even close.

Does the name Thomas Drake ring a bell? What about John Kiriakou? James Risen? Dr. Paul Houser? Jeffrey Sterling?

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/09/journalists_casual...
http://www.salon.com/2011/05/16/whistleblowers_6/
http://www.salon.com/2012/08/14/secrecy_creep/
http://www.salon.com/2011/02/25/whistleblowers_4/

And, as Glenn Greenwald did, I challenge anyone to explain why Ellsberg's leak of the Pentagon Papers is a good thing and Manning's leak is a bad one:

http://www.salon.com/2011/12/24/the_intellectual_c...
quote:
Ever since Manning was accused of being the source for the WikiLeaks disclosures, those condemning these leaks have sought to distinguish them from Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers. With virtual unanimity, Manning’s harshest critics have contended that while Ellsberg’s leak was justifiable and noble, Manning’s alleged leaks were not; that’s because, they claim, Ellsberg’s leak was narrowly focused and devoted to exposing specific government lies, while Manning’s was indiscriminate and a far more serious breach of secrecy. When President Obama declared Manning guilty, he made the same claim: “No it wasn’t the same thing. Ellsberg’s material wasn’t classified in the same way.”

Ellsberg — dumped 7,000 pages of Top Secret documents : the highest known level of classification; by contrast, not a single page of what Manning is alleged to have leaked was Top Secret, but rather all bore a much lower-level secrecy designation. In that sense, Obama was right: “Ellsberg’s material wasn’t classified in the same way” — the secrets Ellsberg leaked were classified as being far more sensitive. To the extent one wants to distinguish the two leaks, Ellsberg’s was the far more serious breach of secrecy. The U.S. Government’s own pre-leak assessment of the sensitivities of these documents proves that. How can someone — in the name of government secrecy and national security — praise the release of thousands of pages of Top Secret documents while vehemently condemning the release of documents bearing a much lower secrecy classification? Nor is there any way to distinguish the substance of the two leaks.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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