Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Filming the police

I don't have a problem with most of the police officers I've known over the years. Coaching for many years, I've come to meet people from all walks of life and count several cops as friends/acquaintances. I recognize the job they do as being a tough one. I'd say 90% of the encounters I've had with officers on duty have been positive. They're people just like everyone else.

There are a small few who abuse their power. One time, my younger brother was pulled over with his friends on a traffic stop. I don't even know why they were pulled over. The Buffalo Police Officer began harassing him, and actually mentioned my name in a derogatory manner. I decided at that point, I was going to turn my camera on in my car should I get pulled over. In that case, it was my brother's word vs. the police officer's and all he had to do was deny saying anything. Remember, they can film you from their dashboard cameras and don't have to ask for your permission. The question becomes a legal one. Is it legal to film the actions and words of police officers in your own car? Here is what the ACLU has to say on the matter...

Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right — and that includes the outside of federal buildings, as well as transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.

However, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs or video in public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply.

The ACLU, photographer’s groups, and others have been complaining about such incidents for years — and consistently winning in court.

The camera doesn't lie and often times serves to back up the police officer in such cases. I had a run in the other night with a Buffalo Police Officer. I was pulled over on South Park Avenue because my 1999 Lincoln Continental has tinted windows. My camera was on the dashboard. The officer became irate and the traffic stop suddenly became a referendum on my blog and his rights. I thought I had turned the camera off, but had actually just closed it. The officer's entire meltdown was caught on tape.

I don't want the officer to get into any trouble over it. That's not my intention. It wasn't a big deal to me. If you hear the tape, he clearly goes over the line, threatening to arrest me and trying to bait me into a confrontation, even as I remained calm and did not talk back. I just dismissed it as frustration caused by having to deal with a rough segment of society every day. I wasn't pulled over because of my blog this time.

I will continue to call things as I see them. Sometimes, people will agree with me. Other times, they won't.

Filming and Photographing the Police

You Have Every Right to Photograph That Cop



  1. You're a punk and you better thank your lucky stars that you're related to a few cops or youd be in a heap of trouble.Its only a matter of time before you end up in jail.Nobody disrepects my fellow officers!!!

  2. On what charge will I end up in jail? I don't break the law. Are you saying you would make up a false charge? If, in fact you are a police officer, all your statement does is prove my point to everyone reading this.

  3. we want to heat the tape, if a cop thinks he is above the law he should be fired. These guys get paid very well and have done nothing as south Buffalo turns into ghetto. WE WANT THE TAPE.

  4. Me thinks you're hiding something.Only rappers and drug dealers have tinted windows.

  5. Nope. I bought the car from my friend's father because he gave me a great deal. He was 64 years old and has since passed. I don't like rap and would never deal drugs.

  6. What is Officers name?

  7. Facebook Friend Mickey Osterreicher,General Counsel at National Press Photographers Association and former CE photog if you want to follow this continuing saga of first amendment violations.

  8. "Anonymous" thinks YOU are hiding something? Why doesn't he have the balls to sign his name?

  9. Every block club in south Buffalo knows the police are protecting the drug dealers. You need to get a lawyer and go after this guys job. He works for you.....he should be fired , he wanted to arrest you for no reason, and said he would have if you were not related to a cop. THIS IS WHY PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE THE POLICE.

  10. "Anonymous" thinks YOU are hiding something? Why doesn't he have the balls to sign his name?

    Yea, his/her comment surprised me. I'm not hiding anything. I drive a beat up car and write a blog. Drugs have never been part of my life. Although, if I read my blog, I might think I was on drugs, too.

  11. "What is Officers name?"

    I'd rather not print his name. I'm not looking for anyone to be punished. I just wanted this incident to be on record in case I'm harassed in the future. I hope I'm not and I don't expect to be. I'm friends with the police chief at the South District station.

  12. Mike-
    Where's the YouTube link to the Commander Cody song !?!?

    I looked in the mirror, a red light was blinkin'
    The cops was after my Hot Rod Lincoln

    They arrested me and they put me in jail
    And called my pappy to throw my bail
    He said "Son, you're gonna to drive me to drinkin'
    If you don't stop drivin' that Hot Rod Lincoln"