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.