Friday, April 10, 2015

The Important Of Monitoring Police Activity

The Walter Scott shooting in Charleston, SC has heightened the need for everyday folk to be prepared to film the public activity of law enforcement if needed.  Earlier this week, PBS Newshour aired a piece about the important of citizens recording police brutality and how to do it properly so that the evidence will hold up in court:




The ACLU has also documented some simple steps to follow when recording police/public activity:

1. Maintain your right to record. Police do not have the right to take your phone if you’re not committing a crime, and they need a warrant to search it. In Sharp v. Baltimore City Police Department, the court ruled that the public has the right to videotape or photograph public police activity in public places.

2. Capture as much information as you can. The video out of North Charleston was powerful because it was a wide shot, said Bock. “The person who was taping that was far enough away to not get involved, but close enough to see what happened.”

3. Do not edit the video.  The Walter Scott video was released as one continuous shot, which makes the timing look more faithful and greatly adds credibility to the footage as well as the photographer.

4. Be respectful. You legally may not interfere with police procedure, and you should not be argumentative or aggressive, said Bock. Instead, she recommends, a civilian monitor should maintain a distance and remind the officer of their rights: “I’m a member of the public, I’m in a public space, you’re doing public work, and I’m just documenting what’s going on.”

5. Be mindful of other laws. Just because you have the right to record doesn’t mean you have the right to trespass or damage property in the process.

6. If you are stopped or detained, ask to leave. You cannot be detained without reasonable suspicion that you have committed, or are about to commit, a crime. If you ask to leave and are denied, this constitutes unlawful detention.


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