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Post Reply Should Video Recording Police Be Illegal?
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27 / F / The state of Wash...
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Posted 3/16/15
Hi, everyone. I have question for you.

Here in the America the state of Texas is passing a state law that make video recording the police illegal. if a person does it, like video taping a cop beating a person or shooting people, he or she can be sent to prison. Several states and cities have passed such laws recently.

What do you think?

Should video recording the police be illegal?

Posted 3/16/15 , edited 3/16/15
So long as they aren't getting in the way, no.
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27 / M
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Posted 3/16/15 , edited 3/16/15
Nope. Although most people should not be recorded without permission, police are in a special position. Recordig them is a way to make them accountable for their actions since they are in a position of power, requiring checks to keep the system as a whole in balance. There's a very scary thing to observe here, which is that in the US, people feel scared around cops. Not so in many of the other countries, where citizens feel protected by cops. This is the only developed country in which people seem to have so much fear of the police.

There is also the fact that the common citizen is gaining access to recording equipment, such as Go Pros, very easily. Punishing a citizen for just happening to have theirs on is pretty shady. Sort of like punishing someone for having their dashcam on. Nobody who values life really goes out intending to provoke and record police. In fact, it is already illegal to record people without permission, yet courts will allow footage taken without permission as evidence. This should not be any different with cops. Or with anything else, for that matter. If the degree of harm prevented (personal shame or embarrassment of the cop) is far outweighed by the potential damage and likelihood of damage (serious harm of the innocent), then it is stupid to consider it worthwhile to prevent that tiny amount damage for such a steep cost. To be clear, I am not saying it should be encouraged or condemned, but a cost-benefits analysis ought to be used on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the circumstances.

Although it is true that undercover cops should probably not be recorded, I don't think recording should be straight up illegal. And, if it is made illegal, using it as evidence when it is valuable should not be punished. After all, so many clips ARE sufficiently long to tell a reasonably complete story of the circumstances. Getting rid of that would remove one of the final safety measures short of violence for keeping cops in check. It's no secret that people will abuse their power if nothing is used to limit it. Time and time again, we see this, and the abuse is not gone now, obviously. Allowing recording can be good for public policy, as it prevents the average person from feeling as though cops wield limitless power and are there to oppress them. I could be wrong, but I think this can placate the angry crowds, whereas making it illegal to record cops would further enrage them.

What recordings that do or do not tell a reasonable tale of the immediate circumstances can be filtered out by the court. Perhaps they can set a standard for how long the reasonable recording is, as well as consider other factors I may not be able to think of now.

I do not advocate stupidly waving a phone in a cop's face and provoking them but that, too, can be considered in court. Provoking a cop to anger for the purpose of recording them can be considered recording in bad faith or something.
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21 / M / The Heroes Associ...
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Posted 3/16/15
Depends.. Having a friend who works as an undercover cop, being on film can compromise him and lead to him getting shot and or murdered.

I think that discretion should be used, however, if a police is clearly overstepping his authority, we have a right to know and to put that individual to justice.

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27 / M / Ark-La-Tex
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Posted 3/16/15
Absolutely not. Ensuring police accountability is difficult enough already.
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47 / M / Memphis, TN
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Posted 3/16/15
The trouble with recording an incident is that--unless you plan the incident ahead of time--you usually end up recording the after-effects of the actual incident rather than the incident itself. To wit, you usually miss the original action that prompts the reaction. Something has to make you decide to start filming--but since you weren't filming yet, you miss getting that on tape. So whoever watches your video is missing one of the most important elements of the story which the video purports to tell.

Because so many people fail to consider the above, and make assumptions based on what is clearly incomplete information, I must think that filming the police should be illegal.

And yes, before anyone claims to "discover" it, I am a police officer. My argument stands upon its own logic, not my position as a cop.
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26 / M / Socal
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Posted 3/16/15 , edited 3/16/15
Damn it the government is already too involved and taking too many of our freedoms away. Why don't they just give us a goddamn choker and leash and be done with it.

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20 / M / Tórshavn
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Posted 3/16/15
I think the police should be carrying a camera on them all day while they are working, people filming them can do it if they want, but it should not be in a manner where they disrupt the officer's work.
Posted 3/16/15
It' just as much there for their safety.
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21 / M / New Brunswick, Ca...
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Posted 3/16/15
I think cameras should be a part of the police uniform and vehicle and always recording. If the video from those cameras cannot be presented in court, the defendant should be immediately released with no charges.
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21 / M
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Posted 3/16/15

brookline wrote:

Here in the America the state of Texas is passing a state law that make video recording the police illegal. if a person does it, like video taping a cop beating a person or shooting people, he or she can be sent to prison. Several states and cities have passed such laws recently.



I think this is drawn out more then it should. If you were to record a police officer abusing their position in the law to illegally harm someone, regardless if recording them is against the law or not, I highly doubt you would be sent to prison for it. You caught someone abusing the law, regardless if they are a police officer or not. They broke the very law they are withholding. I should also point out that your statement only points out officers that are "beating a person or shooting people" rather than an officer doing their job. I think, along with all laws, they have their place and their position. Under certain circumstances they can be broken to withhold other laws (that should be a no brainer).

For example, should a officer be recorded doing an undercover investigation without their consent? No. Beats the whole purpose of an "Undercover investigation". I would also point out, that if someone was murdered/attacked and officers arrived at the scene. IF someone was their, recording the information and what the police were doing about the situation before they were able to organize everything for the press/public, you could be hurting the investigation and you could very well be helping the individual that committed the crime get away. You are giving out information that is very sensitive, and when that information is given out, you are hurting the investigation and the family of the victim. You should take that into consideration.

Either way, you need to remember you are protected by laws. If an officer unlawfully harms someone and you record it, you broke a law. However you caught an officers breaking more than one. You possibly saved someones life, I'm sure you will not be prosecuted.
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26 / M
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Posted 3/16/15

moonhawk81 wrote:

The trouble with recording an incident is that--unless you plan the incident ahead of time--you usually end up recording the after-effects of the actual incident rather than the incident itself. To wit, you usually miss the original action that prompts the reaction. Something has to make you decide to start filming--but since you weren't filming yet, you miss getting that on tape. So whoever watches your video is missing one of the most important elements of the story which the video purports to tell.

Because so many people fail to consider the above, and make assumptions based on what is clearly incomplete information, I must think that filming the police should be illegal.

And yes, before anyone claims to "discover" it, I am a police officer. My argument stands upon its own logic, not my position as a cop.


all the more reason to make it mandatory for any uniformed officer to carry a breast or helmet cam.
would make any burden of evidence of wrong or right a lot easier.
it also entirely circumvents the point above, which is valid to an extent, a lot of incidents also has an escalation phase and if you start recording there you probably will have the actual incidence, though proving that nothing preceded it is practically impossible form the clip alone.

dash cams in patrol vehicles have served this purpose in a lot of countries and it genuinely does work, cant see why it wouldn't on a personal level.
as for costs, wont take more than a single court day to pay for entire departments worth of equipment.

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F / San Francisco
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Posted 3/16/15
I guess my question is - Where does it stop? Can we set up recorders in hospital rooms to make sure doctors and nurses don't abuse their positions and/or steal items from patients? Can we set up cameras in classrooms so parents can ensure their child is not unjustly treated by the teacher or students? Can we record flight stewardess and pilots as well so that they dont drink while on duty? How about putting cameras in fast food restaurants to make sure the special sauce doesn't become any more "special"?

People are so concerned about cops abusing their authority that they fail to see that there are people in every position that abuse their authority. Are there bad cops out there? Yes. But there are also bad doctors, teachers, truck drivers, etc. And before anyone tries to justify recording cops because they have weapons, doctors/nurses can easily kill people with improperly prescribed drugs and truck drivers could easily wipe out a good swath of people with the wrong turn of the wheel. Death is death, whether done through weapons, drugs or vehicles.

People are going to make mistakes, especially in a profession where a split second decision is what decides between life or death. You can Monday morning quarterback these situations all you want, but until you are in a position where you have to make them, such as military combat, you can not be a fair judge. When an officer does get into an altercation, things like weight/height difference and fatigue are all taken into account.
Sogno- 
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Posted 3/16/15
illegal? uh, no.
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26 / M / Socal
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Posted 3/16/15

Akage-chan wrote:

I guess my question is - Where does it stop? Can we set up recorders in hospital rooms to make sure doctors and nurses don't abuse their positions and/or steal items from patients? Can we set up cameras in classrooms so parents can ensure their child is not unjustly treated by the teacher or students? Can we record flight stewardess and pilots as well so that they dont drink while on duty? How about putting cameras in fast food restaurants to make sure the special sauce doesn't become any more "special"?

People are so concerned about cops abusing their authority that they fail to see that there are people in every position that abuse their authority. Are there bad cops out there? Yes. But there are also bad doctors, teachers, truck drivers, etc. And before anyone tries to justify recording cops because they have weapons, doctors/nurses can easily kill people with improperly prescribed drugs and truck drivers could easily wipe out a good swath of people with the wrong turn of the wheel. Death is death, whether done through weapons, drugs or vehicles.

People are going to make mistakes, especially in a profession where a split second decision is what decides between life or death. You can Monday morning quarterback these situations all you want, but until you are in a position where you have to make them, such as military combat, you can not be a fair judge. When an officer does get into an altercation, things like weight/height difference and fatigue are all taken into account.


Human error, god I can't wait when everything is automated. Robots, robots everywhere.
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