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Photograph the Police, Get Arrested 902

Servo writes "Last month a man was arrested in New Hampshire after presenting evidence of a police officer being verbally abusive that he had captured on his home security camera system. Now just recently in Philadelphia a 21 year old student was arrested on his property after he took a photo of the police who were in the process of arresting a drug dealer down the street." From the article: "Cruz said that when he heard a commotion, he walked out of his back door with his cell phone to see what was happening. He said that when he saw the street lined with police cars, he decided to take a picture of the scene. 'I opened (the phone) and took a shot,' Cruz said. Moments later, Cruz said he got the shock of his life when an officer came to his back yard gate."
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Photograph the Police, Get Arrested

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  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:25AM (#15810020)
    The attitude should surely be, "if you ain't got nothing to hide..." ; it's what they are increasingly coming to expect from the rest of us.

    While I can understand that police are probably lairy of being photographed, because it's probably so easy to make mistakes in police procedure that if you were to record their activities, a good lawyer could probably shoot down a large percentage of arrests and whatnot... it does not inspire confidence that a public organisation who allegedly operate inside the law, to uphold the law, should feel it necessary to use their power to conceal the detailed workings of their activities.

    Anyone able to point a finger at the legislation that enables them to do this? Or is there none, and they are just overstepping the mark?
  • Only in the USA.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:31AM (#15810038)
    where I live you see the cops telling the criminals not to touch the cameras or cameraman because they are within their rights to film.
  • by 2e ( 93074 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:37AM (#15810055)
    Why do people assume that the photographs are going to be used for some 'negative' reason?
    Isn't it equally as likely that the photos would be used to identify police officers to shower them with praise and commendations for a job well, done.

  • Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rs79 ( 71822 ) <> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:37AM (#15810058) Homepage
    In 1976 for the first time, Americans spent more on private security firms than on police forced.

    I've photographed cops here in Canada arresting people a couple of times. They don't care.

  • Rodney King? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krunk4ever ( 856261 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:49AM (#15810096) Homepage
    If this was indeed a law, then incidents like the Rodney King incident would never be able to surface.

    Police also denied that they told Cruze he was breaking the law with his cell phone.

    So did I miss it or did the police never say 'why' Cruz was arrested?
  • by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:57AM (#15810114) Journal
    I understand the fear that the guy might be involved with the drug dealer, but just deleting the pictures (or confiscating the memory card so it can be securely erased down at the station) ought to have been sufficient. At my previous job I was a researcher working on wireless medical devices to assist in distaster management; my group was invited to participate in a major disaster drill in southern california (many emergency response organizations, from local police to the FBI). We were allowed cameras on the scene to document and evaluate our work, but we were explicitly forbidden from taking pictures of certain responders (eg. the SWAT team, people in HVAC suites, etc.). One of my coworkers got caught violating this (he was taking pictures of the victoms but guys in HVAC's could be seen in the background), and was cuffed and arrested; fortunately they ended up just erasing the pictures and he was never charged.
  • The police only have to read you your rights if they want to question you and then later use your testimony (the results of said questioning) as evidence.

    If you're caught red-handed doing something illegal, then it's not out of the realm of possibility that the police might just not bother. If they don't want to ask you anything, then they don't need to make you aware of your rights. (At least not right at the scene of the arrest, like you're familiar with seeing in movies.)

    I have known numerous people who have been arrested and never read their rights at the scene, because there was no reason for the police to question them; the evidence was so overwhelming (e.g. simple drug possession, DUI) that the police didn't care what they had to say and weren't going to ask them anything. Whether this is official procedure or not I can't say.
  • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:12AM (#15810158) Homepage Journal
    I was at a political protest and happened to observe a cop give a peaceful (but somewhat annoying) person the finger. I laughed and whipped out my video camera and said to the cop semi-seriously "hey do that again, let me get that on video!"

    The cop grabbed my shirt and pulled me toward him and growled in my face "you want to get arrested?!?!"

    I laughed again and said "for what?"I lucky in that there were plenty of people around and also that a managing officer pulled the cop away and told him to cool off... but if I had been arrested it wouldn't have been the first time I was arrested on false premises.

    Not all cops are dishonest - but it only takes one to mess up your day, and generally the otherwise honest cops will look the other way when it happens - they have to stick together.

  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:26AM (#15810187)
    How can the police be sure that the photos aren't going to be used to identify police officers for later revenge attacks?

    I would "think" it would be reasonable for an officer to get a name of a person who photographs a crime scene or an active arrest, could be handy evidence and they are a witness.

    It would be unreasonable to assume someone's photographing you for a revenge attack and act on it. But in the unlikely event a revenge act takes place, they got someone who they can talk who has pictures of officers and bystanders.
  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:42AM (#15810231) Homepage Journal
    Some criminals wear badges, which is why police departments have an internal affairs divsion, to find and remove bad cops from the force. These sound like cases for IAD to me, big time.

    Now maybe its just me, but there does seem to be an increase in cases of police officers getting confused and thinking they work for the gestapo. There was a case a month back or so where the daughter of a police officer was arrested for "trespassing." She and a friend were lost and had stopped to ask a police officer for directions. The officer refused to help them, stating that they would have to find their own way out. A few moments later they spotted another officer and drove over to where he was to ask for help, at which point the first officer rushed over and berated them for daring to ask her partner for help when she had already told them to get lost. So they drove up the street a ways, pulled over, and began trying to find out where they were on a map while trying to call the girl's father on a cell phone. A few minutes later these same officers arrested them for "trespassing" ..... on a public street. The girl and her friend spent the night in jail. They weren't charged of course because they hadn't committed any crime.

    I don't know how this case turned out for the officers involved, but it shows a serious lack of oversight when two cops are able to run wild and abuse the public in that manner.

    Now I know for a fact that most cops are decent men and women who treat citizens with all due respect, despite having to be human-garbagemen and spend much of their time doing what I call "white trash patrol." Just watch a few episodes of Cops and you'll know what I mean. But even so there are a few who are bad apples, and unless they're culled from the force then you end up with situations like these, or worse.

    The last thing any police department should be interested in doing is making themselves the enemy of the public. The police depend upon public goodwill to do their job, and to come home alive at the end of their shift. If the police do not have the trust of the public, then they will not have the cooperation of the public. This is already the case in urban slums where calls of "five-O!" cry out day and night warning the residents that a police car or officer is in the area. When the police become a nuisance equal to that of the criminals they are supposed to be pursuing, then the public will treat them with equal disdain.

    In most parts of the world, being a police officer is met with about the same level of respect as a personal injury lawyer would be here, if not less. The police are held in contempt because in most parts of the world, particularly the 3rd world, corruption and abuse are almost part of the job. Police officers in the US are, at least among healthy segments of society, viewed with respect if not admiration. But this esteem is fragile because at the end of the day the police are armed agents of the state and that makes them difficult to love. So when officers abuse and betray the trust of the public and make false arrests, all it does is make life that much more difficult for them and and their fellow officers. Things like these are noticed, and remembered.
  • by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:54AM (#15810267) Journal
    I once asked the security officers in the main post office in New York if I could take some pictures and said it was fine provided that the faces of the public employees weren't included.

    on a separate trip to the USA, in Phoenix AZ., my father asked a couple of cops if he could take a picture of their two cars parked side by side and they said "sure" provided they were not actually in the picture.
  • by Instine ( 963303 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @06:24AM (#15810333)
    I agree completely. This is a better wording of my thoughts. So who are these 'others'? Got any links? I've found a few myself, but am still trying to go through them. I've even been involved in the design of some related systems, which where funded by government (Canadian), again, ironically enough.

    The money thing is an issue. However, this issue is tending towards our goal, not away. The first popular resources that could be easily shared using the Internet were songs and other digital info and property. 'free' sharing of music, far out ways the more traditionally capitalist driven model of distribution.

    If we make it just as easy to swap, methods of education, home and neighbourhood security, health care (maybe not surgery, but care for the elderly, and other more doable stuff), energy (LOTS can be done here)...

    My best guess is to do as much as you can without the need for tokens, to start building the structure of the system. Then introduce tax free tokens, so that one day, we might be able to convince a surgeon with his own practise to perform a life saving op, in return for etokens amassed by some guy with a wind generator, supplying electricity to his neighbours. If MMOGs can do it, then surely something a little more pressing (like our real life freedom) could inspire something equally robust.
  • In Australia... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CaptainDefragged ( 939505 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @06:33AM (#15810350)
    it seems that this stupidity is contagious. There's been a big issue in the media here recently, but this story [] pretty much covers it. In a nut shell, that old chestnut "think of the terrorists" has been dragged out. Now the management put out the signs, but the general consensus from people that should know is that this directive is neither binding, nor enforceable.
  • Re:Requisite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lt. TJ ( 909172 ) <> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @06:35AM (#15810355)
    You don't have to welcome the Big Brother but LOVE the big Brother. And you will.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @07:05AM (#15810415) Homepage
    I don't know why anyone would mod the parent as flamebait. Think about it for a moment. During any time in U.S. history can you think of any other president about which such comments have been raised? We want to blame the guy in charge for the stte of affairs, but in this case, many of the changes we've seen have been directly related to the over-reaction to terrorist threat... cues taken from Bush himself. But there's more to it than that I think. But it certainly seems to have started at the top.
  • Re:Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RajivSLK ( 398494 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @07:18AM (#15810441)
    I have mod points but I'd rather post.

    It's not so rosey up here in Canada. This past Canada Day the Victoria police instituted a policy of manditory searches on all buses heading downtown. They can get away with this because, on Canada Day, the bus is used mostly by young people going to clubs. I objected to being searched thinking that I would simply not be allowed back on the bus. Instead, to my complete surprise, the officer began to become very verbally abusive and I was arrested for "Drunk and Disorderly Conduct".

    No breathalizer, no soberiety test, nothing. 100% soley based upon the officers "observation". I was processed and thrown into a dirty cement holding cell that lacked even toilet paper let alone a bed. As it stands the Victoria police can arest anyone at anytime under the charge of "Drunk and Disorderly" with no evidence and no soberiety test.

    I can't wait for the day when *I* can video tape everything. That should provide a little balance to things.
  • by asuffield ( 111848 ) <> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @09:07AM (#15810695)
    Anyone able to point a finger at the legislation that enables them to do this? Or is there none, and they are just overstepping the mark?

    There is none. However, the government won't prosecute police for criminal actions unless there is political pressure to do so. In the US there is currently no pressure for 'abuse of powers' issues, although there sometimes is for more conventional crimes (murder, assault, etc). People may not like Bush, but they're quite happy with their police state. And it's notoriously difficult to get a civil suit to stick for these things.

    Ultimately, once the police have forcibly confiscated your camera and 'lost' the film, the pictures are gone and nobody's going to do anything about it. You can get a court to order them to give back what they still have, but stuff goes missing all the time and nobody is held accountable for it, so that's not particularly productive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 30, 2006 @09:27AM (#15810745)
    living in Portland, OR we had serious marches and protests every time W. would come visit, knowing very well he was unwelcome in our friendly socialist state ... they would block off a 3sq block around the hotel with swat and police in riot gear, armed to the teeth with draw-ties and [hopefully] rubber bullets. and before that, there were big issues with investigating protesters and keeping data on indivuals, standing on rooftops filming protestors ... so whenever i'd hear about something going on, i'd grab my video camera and jump on Max to check it all out. i caught a row of riot police pepper spraying a crowd of poeple standing and yelling, in particular a mother holding an infant child, front-row.

    on another note, one day i was walking downtown watching police, filming them "do their thing" and obviously making them a little nervous, so when i stepped onto the street to short-cut to a crosswalk (which they had the whole road blocked off anyway) i was stopped and ticketed for "improper positioning upon a roadway" (which says if there is a sidewalk you have to be on it, not the road) ... they were ready to "make [me] go through the whole thing", until they realized i was recording audio as well, and i told them it was "exactly the footage i'm looking for" ... haul in a jay-walker, essentially.

    i told him we were making a documentary about "police ... and corruption" ...
  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @09:42AM (#15810790)
    I've dealt with the police three times. Each time I was pulled over.

    The first incident, I was ticketed for traveling 5 miles per hour over the speed limit on a limited access highway. It was a 'pointless' ticket, so it didn't have a huge impact on my insurance rate. The cop had me going 13 over.

    The second time, I accidentally/inadvertently broke traction at a stop light, and apparently there was a fender bender at that intersection. The cop pulled me over ~1.5 miles away and ended up telling me to take it easy.

    The third, I was driving my friend home from the bar in his unregistered vehicle(I had much less to drink than he did, ~4 light beers in 3 or 4 hours, I weigh ~230 lbs.). I was given a sobriety test(the coordination kind, not a breathalyzer) and passed. The cops let us go home after telling my friend to "take care of it" in a stern voice.

    Perhaps I am lucky, or perhaps my clean record is being nice to me, but I think that as much as anything else, my treating the officers with respect and behaving in a calm manner are responsible for the outcomes.

    Next time you are pulled over, remind yourself that the cop just read about the latest cop that got shot during a 'routine' traffic stop and cut him some slack. Walking into an unknown and potentially dangerous situation is never 'routine'.
  • by Ph33r th3 g(O)at ( 592622 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @09:45AM (#15810805)
    ISTR a Slashdot story a year or so ago about just such a camera--but for video, and comments in the story immediately realized the potential for avoiding confiscation of photos at protests and such. Unfortunately, it is indeed an idea whose time has come.
  • Re:Bah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kizeh ( 71312 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @10:06AM (#15810874)
    Not per se, that I know of. But in the town I live in, there is a cruise ship terminal, aquarium and shopping/dining/movie complex with a parking garage. As it happens, the garage has a beautiful view of downtown and all the neon of the above establishments. I went there once with a friend to take pictures. The garage staff told us to quit and prevented us from leaving until a sheriff showed up. He went through all of our pictures (thank goodness for digital), called in our driver's license numbers, and advised us that there was to be no photography anywhere in the area. Considering that this is complex that processes hundreds of thousands of tourists a year, not to mention all the people going to the clubs and restaurants, this was obviously ridiculous, but we didn't feel like pressing the point; we did however ask how we could get permission to take photos there, since it had some unique views, and were told that we couldn't.
  • Re:Bad cops (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) < minus punct> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @10:21AM (#15810934) Homepage
    That's just the point. If you want to block public roads and intefere with the lives of millions you had better have permission first. In short, who the fuck are you to block my way to work? To the movies? Airport? etc...

    I had to deal with this recently when in Ottawa the farmers were protesting the governments lack of handouts by driving their tractors slowly on the highways. I think they had permits for it but it was still a pain in the ass. Took me three times longer to get to work. Do I now care [or really know about] the plight of the farmers? No. I hate their faces. I'd rather buy produce from the states as my way of protesting.

    To have an organized society we have to have consensus. To have a progressive society we need disturbance. The trick though is to know the limits. You can damage your cause with unruly protesters just as easily as you can help it with an orderly permitted march.

  • by TFGeditor ( 737839 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @11:36AM (#15811327) Homepage
    "This isn't a major civil liberties breach because it's an isolated incident, not far reaching."

    First off, if you even read the summary let alone followed the links, you would know it was not an "isolated incident" but just the latest manifestation of police making up "laws" to fit any situation they do not like.

    Second, even if it were an "isolated incident" (whatever that means), that does not mean it "isn't a major civil liberties breach." Any breach of rights is major and serious.

    Third, even though the guy "got off," the chilling effect (just what the police/government hoped for) is VERY "far reaching." Who among us after reading about incidents like this will not henceforth think twice before photographing police or any other government official?

    On a personal note, I was once threatened by a fire marshall and told, "You've taken the last picture you are going to take here!" because I was photographing a wildland brush fire--and I was/am a journalist.

  • Routine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hotsauce ( 514237 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @11:52AM (#15811422)
    Believe it or not, this tactic is routine among police. I have seen police shout at anti-war protesters who were on the sidewalk to get on the sidewalk, then drag them off the sidewalk, and then charge them for disobeying a lawful police order.

    I've also seen police box protesters in, order them to disperse, and since they can't, arrest them for failure to disperse.

    I've seen these tactics many times. Sadly, they mostly get the charges to stick, and these guys get criminal records (probably the punishment the cops are trying to inflict).
  • Stealth camera (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZorbaTHut ( 126196 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @01:34PM (#15811973) Homepage
    I've been waiting for a mini-stealth-camera-and-recorder to appear. I want a little device, the size of a cellphone camera, that fits in a button or a necklace or a belt buckle or something equally inconspicuous. It should be connected to a waist controller, which would include battery pack, storage (hard drive or flash), and wifi. Wifi so that, whenever it can find an available internet connection, it can upload its contents to a secure server located elsewhere.

    Just imagine that. "Sorry sir, you took a picture of something you weren't supposed to. I'm going to have to confiscate your camera." "The pictures are already in Texas, and in ten minutes they'll be posted online. Same as the recording of what you're saying right now. You really want to illegally take my possessions, Officer Frank, Number 3894?"

    Obviously there would be privacy implications as well, but it's kind of inevitable that this will occur someday.

    ("Oh yeah, and there's six other people taping this right now. Don't bother looking for them. You won't find them. At least two of them are sending it outside the country.")
  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @01:38PM (#15812003) Homepage
    That is, if one of the arresting officers were an undercover detective, then his identity might well have been blown.

    If the officer is undercover and wants to remain so, he shouldn't be arresting people in public. Arresting people is a pretty good giveaway that you're a police officer.

  • public servents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:41PM (#15812995)

    i actually find it rather disgusting that you'd say something like "Who the fuck is he to do such a thing". we, as Americans, should be more focused on the safety of our President than an extra 20 minutes commuting to work in the morning!

    Yes, I'll say it, "Who the fuck are you?" The president of the USA is a servant of the public that's who he is, the public who pays his salary. He's not King George, as much as he'd like to think he is.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:17PM (#15813182) Journal
    As far as I can tell from the article, there never were formal charges filed - just threats, and the "crime" he was being charged with changed every time he was asked, especially the charge under the non-existent "new law" about photographing police with cell phones. That didn't mean they didn't have to write something on the forms when they stuck him in the can, but they didn't formally file charges or arraign him, probably didn't even schedule an arraignment. Basically, the cops lied a lot. The "You're lucky there wasn't a supervisor on duty, so we could just let you go" was also a partial lie - if there'd been a supervisor on duty, the cop would have had to do more formal charges and paperwork for the supervisor, or else the supervisor would have thrown out the arrest right away. My experience with police lying is that they do back each other up, and in most cases a supervisor would have let the arrest continue, so the guy really was lucky, but he might have gotten a good supervisor who didn't want to put up with it (or didn't want to do the extra paperwork), which would have been better.
  • Re:Bad cops (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @11:34PM (#15814818)
    Most places don't ask "Ever been arrested?" - they ask "Ever been convicted?"

    I was arrested once, because I said no, when the clerk asked if I wanted my receipt. Once I said no, she pocketed the cash, called the cops and said I stole the items I'd just paid for.

    Unfortunately for her, I had exact change from the purchase, from the money I'd just gotten from the ATM machine.

    Unfortunately for me, she was the chief of police's wife.

    Unfortunately for her, she had a record of doing this from before she was married.

    Fortunately for me, I had friends (business owners) who knew me and stood up for me.

    She ended up in jail. The officer got slammed with a false arrest charge (as he didn't read me the miranda to me), and proceeded to inform me that I was lying and that I'd better stop - all without offering to have a lawyer present. I kept repeating that I wasn't lying.

    That I think used up all my luck for quite a few years to come.

    So when asked - have I ever been arrested - I have to answer yes.. Was I convicted - never. Innocent until proven guilty.

    I'd sue the company that didn't hire based on an "Ever been arrested" question.
  • Re:standing army (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday July 31, 2006 @02:14AM (#15815277)
    This presents a bit of a contradiction in Thomas Jefferson. He was one of those those who were against a standing army yet he was the first US president that sent the military on an international adventure. He sent the military to fight pirates along the Barbary Coast of Africa in the Mediterranean

    Army != Navy. Note the particular wording of the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, clauses 12-13; emphasis mine):

    To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

    To provide and maintain a navy;

    It was evidently intended that armies be raised in an ad-hoc fashion, but that there should be a standing navy. Therefore, Jefferson's use of the navy was not a contradiction of his position against having a standing army.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @11:42AM (#15817555)

    The biggest barrier is money, though. I don't mean funding, but rather that money itself is a government monopoly. Ultimately, what you talk about may require acceptance of alternative (non-centralised, community-run) monetary systems. I'd have a look into this if I were you, just so you can keep it in mind. In making the the government redundant, people will have to be able to allocate resources themselves.

    You know, the obvious solution to this problem is gold standard. Make coins out of gold and make them weight as much as they're worth. With current technology, it should be easy to build some kind of device that checks that the purity and weight of a coin are within acceptable limits and is easy to carry with you.

    In the long run, I think we're going to see an energy standard - energy itself is going to be used as money. Anything else can be synthesized from it with sufficient technology. And since energy is by definition (energy is the ability to do work) usefull, any inflation in such a system means that the price of energy has gone down so the total resources available have gone up, and is therefore actually desirable.

    In the long run we'll switch to such systems, whether the current-style governments and corporations keep their power or not. The current system of an unlimited money supply backed with nothing whatsoever has proven itself fundamentally fragile and unstable time and again. The sooner we get rid of it the better for everyone.

    Don't forget: one of the reasons why Nazis came to power was the economic chaos in Germany, which in turn was partly caused by the government printing money to the point where the paper the bills were printed on was more valuable than the bills themselves. Such a situation is always a possibility in the current system, and there's no shortage of evil maniacs ready to use it to their advantage.

  • Re:Bad cops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:00PM (#15817701)
    I think we'd have better presidents if they thought about how their policies affect people. If they live in a bulletproof world they don't have the final accountability that assassination has always provided since Roman days.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972