Police have body cameras
We have all grown accustom to police officers having video cameras mounted in their vehicles recording every interaction they have with the public. These videos can be helpful to both police and citizens when the facts of an arrest or a crime are in dispute. According to the NY Times, hundreds of police departments are trying out body-mounted cameras. Police officers will wear tiny cameras on their torsos capturing interactions between police and the public at a more intimate range.
Many people believe that this will enable the ‘truth’ to come out in interactions with the police. But these days the police are not the only ones videotaping police/civilian interactions. With the advent of smart phones, more and more people are videotaping arrests, crimes and sometime police misconduct on their phones.
Civilian videos of police present a series of first amendment and privacy issues. It is illegal in several states to record conversations with police without their permission. According to the NY Times, “Courts in several states are considering cases where citizens who videotaped the police have been charged with violating wiretapping or eavesdropping statutes, prosecution that civil rights lawyers say violates First Amendment rights.” NYT. Outlawing the ability of citizens to record police encounters, thus only allowing police to record events means that the police control the evidence of the encounter. This would not be a problem if video were objective. Video does not record the truth of an encounter; it records one perspective of the event therefore only telling one narrative. I hope that the trend of states prosecuting citizens for recording police encounters becomes the minority position in the county. Having as many different records or ‘perspectives’ of events between police and the public will only help to ensure that the full story is told.
If you have been charged with a crime, please call the Galle Law Firm, LLC at 843.747.6634.