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Print 102 comment(s) - last by VideoTape All .. on Dec 2 at 3:44 PM

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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Oh wow.
By bill.rookard on 11/26/2012 6:23:41 PM , Rating: 5
Where do we start with this one.

1) Clearly not resisting (sounds very polite too).
2) Clearly not obstructing (video show he's a good distance away)
3) Clearly not delaying (since he's just being quiet and taping).
4) No requirement to produce ID on demand (since he's not really DOING anything and certainly not suspicious or criminal)

My big question is how these cops actually manage to avoid being terminated since it's very clear that they DO NOT KNOW THE LAWS WELL ENOUGH TO ENFORCE THEM. Neither of them knew that this was unconstitutional, and are therefore violating the rights of this guy. If I were him, I'd be requiring that these two have reprimands placed in their personnel files and be suspended without pay for a few weeks at least so they can read up on the law as a condition of the settlement.




RE: Oh wow.
By Jeffk464 on 11/26/2012 7:30:31 PM , Rating: 2
They could have known it was legal and the case would be tossed out, but have done it anyways just to harass the guy. They don't have to pay out the lawsuits and because of unions have to step way way way out of line to get fired.


RE: Oh wow.
By GotThumbs on 11/27/2012 11:26:31 AM , Rating: 1
Any time an officer requests ID, you are required to provide it. Respect for the law and those charged with enforcing it have fallen greatly. Only an ignorant POS would fail to see what every individual officer has to deal with in their daily work. I'n not in law enforcement, but if I was...I'd be tazing most of the ignorant POS in society today. Unless you've done a ride-along with your local police...You know nothing of what really goes on and what police deal with daily.

I hope all your companies install video cameras all around you and your work area. Your doing nothing wrong, so it shouldn't be a problem correct? This is the same thing. There is no difference.

This "Story" is just a tool to get tools like you fired up. An officer must maintain control and having POS hanging around video taping them and possibly getting involved is a situation is a huge concern. Ignorante citizens who have no clue will surely think this is not a problem. I just wish all the police would take one week off....then let the citizens see what kind of POS criminals are really out there. Even a routine stop can turn deadly and having some out of work POS distracting the officer or creating an embolden action by the person being questioned can create an issue unnecessarily and risk the officers life. Police have to deal with many people/attitudes most of you couldn't handle. Police do not get paid to get abused by the public. Have some respect for the danger many work daily with. In any career, there are good and bad. Bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad teachers, bad police.

If you have a problem with public cameras, traffic cameras, etc. but no problem with ignorant citizens taking traffic stops...then your an ignorant sob yourself and probably a criminal as well. Until you've done a "Ride-along" with police, you have no idea what their daily work life is like. Try and look at it from their point of view at least once.


RE: Oh wow.
By bsd228 on 11/27/2012 3:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
> Any time an officer requests ID, you are required to provide it.

Wrong. This is America, not the Soviet Union. But feel free to move!


RE: Oh wow.
By dark matter on 11/27/2012 4:58:39 PM , Rating: 3
"Any time an officer requests ID, you are required to provide it."

Only if they suspect you of wrongdoing. Otherwise you're completely free to go about your business.

"Respect for the law and those charged with enforcing it have fallen greatly."

And whose fault is that then? Ours for adhering to the law?

"Only an ignorant POS would fail to see what every individual officer has to deal with in their daily work"

Straw man argument. Just because they may have a difficult task, does not automatically give them the right to harass and abuse their powers on everyday law abiding citizens.

It's also worth pointing out that they are quite able to leave the police force, they have not been conscripted or forced to do that job under duress.

"I'd be tazing most of the ignorant POS in society today."

Look out folks, it Robert De-Niro in taxi driver.

You talking to me, you talking to me.

It's exactly your attitude why the respect for the police has fallen, and it's exactly your attitude that is what is wrong with the police force.

" An officer must maintain control and having POS hanging around video taping them and possibly getting involved is a situation is a huge concern."

Ok Robocop. No doubt you'd tazer the guy, because, well, just because he's a piece of shit, for doing nothing illegal.

Move aside son, you're an idiot.


RE: Oh wow.
By ebakke on 11/27/2012 5:29:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Until you've done a "Ride-along" with police, you have no idea what their daily work life is like.
Probably true. The police have no idea what my daily work life is like either. And I don't much care about either party's ignorance. No one is being forced to perform any job. If the police don't like the challenges of their daily work, they're free to find other employment.

Most importantly, I value my liberty and the liberty of my fellow citizens far more than any civil servant's discomfort on the job. That you don't, is particularly scary to me.


RE: Oh wow.
By Jeffk464 on 11/27/2012 8:28:03 PM , Rating: 2
I went on a ride along in high school. The cop spent most of the time chatting with other cops over the computer. The big excitement for the day was picking up a shoplifter.


RE: Oh wow.
By Jeffk464 on 11/27/2012 8:26:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Any time an officer requests ID, you are required to provide it.


This is so not true. If you remember right the federal government is trying to make it easier for people who enter the country illegally. So basically the feds are trying to stop the police from being able to ask for ID.


RE: Oh wow.
By Piiman on 12/1/2012 3:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
"I'n not in law enforcement, but if I was...I'd be tazing most of the ignorant POS in society today"

Sadly many Cops feel this way and THAT IS WHY WE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO FILM THEM. thanks for proving our point!


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