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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 GotThumbs on 11/27/2012 11:34:37 AM , Rating: -1
Do you really think any other industry doesn't have bad people as well. How about instituting video cameras in your office to watch that you do your job correctly and do not commit any criminal acts.

Now if your even remotly against this idea or think its any different that someone video taping an officer....then your simply an ignorant fool. Problem with society today is there are more ignorant fools who think they know better. You simply don't.

I wish to god that all police took one week sick leave....then you pansies would have lots to film.

Your a fool if you think only police have some people who are bad. Don't punish/persecute the many good ones because you choose to profile/generalize that all police are bad.

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
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
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
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).

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
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
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
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?
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
'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
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.

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