Apparently there has been some Internet kerfuffle involving officers being videotaped by citizens. Seems some officers get their Hanes all up in a half-hitch about it — to the point of pulling some truly feather-legged stunts.
And I’m asking that question of both sides, by-the-by.
I ask the officers because, well, duh. If you’re not doing anything to be ashamed of, why do you care if someone videotapes you?
The advent of the dash-cam was a turning point in modern police work. It has cleared more cases and exonerated more officers than any other single instrument in history.
The only problem with the dash-cam is that it has a relatively narrow field-of-view … which is fixed. Once the cruiser is parked, the dash-cam can’t move.
And I’m here to tell you, when critters decide to resist, or evade, or get really squirrelly, most of the time it doesn’t happen on the hood of your cruiser.
So, now you have a dash-cam that’s going to follow you, that you don’t pay for, that the tax money of the citizens of your County doesn’t pay for, that pays for it’s own maintenance, supplies it’s own parts … where’s the downside?
Hell, if someone wants to follow me around on patrol with a video camera I’d probably hand him a ride-along sheet and offer to buy him coffee.
Remember, children, even as officers we have the Sixth Amendment right: “to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.”
Allegations of minor misconduct by officers are on the rise. By “minor misconduct” I mean complaints that officers were unprofessional, or rude, or abrupt, or any number of things that can ding your personnel file.
Hell, I know of a neighboring department that opened a file on an officer because someone complained that the officer “displayed his tattoos in a menacing manner.”
Call it Death by Nibbling Ducks.
And here we have someone with hard evidence that can either show that the allegation is a distortion, is an exaggeration, or is an outright lie; or it can show the totality of the circumstances of the event.
As long as you are abiding by your oaths … like I said: where’s the down-side to this?
As for the citizens …
… I love you to death, I will happily buy you coffee, I will insist that you take this card with the direct line to
Infernal Internal Affairs, as well as a map to their lair office, I will probably send you “Thank You” notes — but, I think you’re crazy.
For Freyja’s sake, I hope you never video anything Really Good.
I won’t ask you your name when you first start following me — because it’s not really any of my business.
However, the moment Anything Good happens in your presence, you’re no longer A Citizen, you are A Witness; and it becomes my duty to demand your name, address, and date of birth.
I will not seize your camera — unless someone is heading for the Emergency Room, or room temperature, and even then I’ll probably just wait for the detectives to seize your camera.
And that’s the worst thing I could do to you. I’ll let you noodle about for “Chain of Custody“, but you’re going to learn to hate that phrase.
Another one you’ll learn to hate is: subpoena duces tecum.
Just for giggles some time, look up the Latin translation of that phrase, and understand that judges have no sense of humour at all about it.
My friend, you see that person with the big white grin in the thousand-dollar suit sitting next to the defendant? You know why that suit costs a thousand dollars? Because it has to be specially tailored around the dorsal fin.
When Mama’s Little Dumplin’ who ain’t never done nuffin’ except sing in the choir, deliver home-cooked meals to the disadvantaged, and rescue kittens is accused of resisting arrest/assault on public servant/retaliation against a public servant/domestic violence/drive-by shooting/armed robbery/fill in the blank here …
… your video of the incident, or of the victim, or of the crime scene is going to become an important part of the case against Mama’s Little Dumplin’, because juries just looooove videos.
tile-crawling shark defence attorney knows that juries just looooove videos. So he (or she) knows that if he wants to earn his retainer he’s (or she’s) is going to have to get the video either thrown out, or discredited on the stand.
Welcome to the prosecution. This is the witness stand. Yes, that is a bulls-eye on your chest. With appeals and the probably inevitable civil trial, you could be here for years.
Love ya. Shift starts the usual time on Monday. If you’re late, I’ll swing by the Stab-and-Grab on Main every so often so you can catch up.