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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Aother wonderful sensational headline...
By Beenthere on 11/26/2012 5:26:00 PM , Rating: 0
...by the illustrious and talented or not so much... Jason Mick. What a jackass.

As far as the video taping some states have already made judicial rulings that video taping police in many of their activities is illegal as it jepardizes their safety and can negatively impact police operations.




By xthetenth on 11/26/2012 6:17:44 PM , Rating: 2
What an interesting way to phrase catch them doing something illegal. Video of a cop taken by somebody staying clear of the scene acting within their rights is hardly going to incite violence against them or negatively impact police operations.

Power should have checks, it's kind of the American way.


By MechanicalTechie on 11/26/2012 6:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
You like living on your knees why the gov turkey slaps you?

Wake up Mcfly!!
quote:
illegal as it jepardizes their safety and can negatively impact police operations.

Utter rubbish.. either you do your job properly or not a camera won't change anything unless you have something to hide.. ie incompetence, corruption, racial profiling etc


By Schrag4 on 11/26/2012 7:01:22 PM , Rating: 1
How exactly does videotaping police jeopardize their safety? And I can understand how broadcasting their operations live could hinder those operations, but videotaping?

You may think it's sensational but I know I'm not alone in thinking it's a very big deal that public servants apparently don't want to be held accountable to those paying their salaries.

Let me play devil's advocate and assume for a moment that videotaping them actually does jeopardize their safety somehow. I believe it's a small price to pay to keep citizens as well as police from making false claims against one another. It should benefit police more than it inhibits or endangers them, unless they're crooked, of course.


By ritualm on 11/26/2012 7:10:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
... as it jeOpardizes their safety and can negatively impact police operations.

Excessive control of information by the police leads to oppression. What do you call a nation of oppressed citizens? A police state.

The cops can say ANYTHING YOU DO jeopardizes their safety and ability to do their jobs. Didn't Rodney King teach you anything at all? Power corrupts absolutely. Cops want more power without the greater responsibilities attached to those powers.

Way to go full on retard on this one, son.


By 91TTZ on 11/26/2012 8:58:37 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
As far as the video taping some states have already made judicial rulings that video taping police in many of their activities is illegal as it jepardizes their safety and can negatively impact police operations.


States cannot make laws that contradict or override federal laws or the Constitution.

Those laws have not held up in federal court when challenged.


RE: Aother wonderful sensational headline...
By chagrinnin on 11/26/2012 10:50:29 PM , Rating: 1
Beenthere: "I'll take "Not Too Bright" for .25¢ Aleox."


By MechanicalTechie on 11/26/2012 11:29:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'll take "Not Too Bright" for .25¢ Aleox.


Pure Gold!! :D


By spaced_ on 11/27/2012 3:14:16 AM , Rating: 4
Sensationalist?

Let me break it down for you. You seem to struggle with the English language.

Here's a definition of sensationalist:

"Someone who uses exaggerated or lurid material in order to gain public attention"

Here's the head line for you, in case you didn't read it:

"California Cops Arrest, Harass Man for Videotaping Them on the Job"

Are you saying any of the following were exaggerated?
- The cops weren't Californian.
- The cops weren't cops
- The cops didn't arrest the man
- The man was not harassed, or harassed by cops
- It wasn't actually a man
- The man didn't video tape the cops
- The cops were off-duty

Did I cover all of the potential exaggerations for you?

Is there something else I may assist you with in allowing you to comprehend our language?


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