"We have four boxes with which to defend our freedom: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box." - Congressman Larry McDonald M.D.
(1 April, 1935 - 1 Sept., 1983)


God Save The Republic

09 August 2010

Cops And Cameras

Alvie, over at The Cliffs Of Insanity, has written a good piece, "Photography Is Not A Crime," regarding the continuing and ever expanding perils befalling American citizens who venture too close to American police officers while said citizens are packing loaded cameras. Tell ya the truth, I'm beginning to think we have a better chance of a happier outcome if we were openly carrying an RPG while standing on a street corner, distributing kiddy porn and smoking crack with Osama bin Laden.

Let's get honest: Cops are human. Humans are fallible. Fallibility results in cops, et al., doing some really stupid and unprofessional stuff (human stuff) when prompted by either (1) stress or (2) that badge heavy bullshit, Judge Dredd mentality... "I AM the LAW!!!" Everybody, including law enforcement command structures, realizes this. And they know IT IS going to happen. It is, after all, the number one cause for huge figure payouts when folks sue the police over said stupid and / or unprofessional acts.

In an effort to instill some means of "by proxy" self control mechanism into cops, cop commands use the old guilt trip trick: "In every situation you're in, imagine your mother is standing there watching / hearing." Or your spouse, kids, squeeze, priest OR the crew from your local television investigative reporting team, filming every move, every utterance. For some cops, it's unnecessary. For others, it works. For the remaining few... there's just no hope, so cop commands keep that liability insurance policy paid in full.

So, in yet another episode (albeit short) of "History Lessens," we need to travel back in time to the transitional period, when police departments began to require education over mere brawn from their new recruits. The concept was; hiring cops who could resolve problems through logical and peaceful mediation rather than simply resorting to beating the snot out of folks over every petty offense. They wanted to get away from that "striking fear into the hearts and minds" of the citizenry.

Now, let's travel a little forward in time, to the very first amateur captured video of Rodney King getting an ass whomppin at the hands (and batons) of the L.A.P.D., and the results thereafter.

NOTE: I wasn't there to see or hear firsthand. I can only base my thoughts on what I saw from the video, sans any audio. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video (even without audio) is worth ten times that. Those cops, from my point of view, seriously screwed the pooch... with extreme prejudice. And, our amateur videographer made a small fortune off the sale of his tape.

After those cops were convicted, suddenly everyone with a camcorder, SLR Pentax P-3, cellphone or dollar store disposable camera was now out catching cops in some of their most highly retarded "Kodak moments," for fun and profit. (mostly profit) Not exactly a good situation for the retards when the vids and pics are turned over to the local TV station(s) and shown over and over, for weeks on end. Or, worse yet, getting up over a million unique hits per day on You-Tube. (especially when your mom, spouse, kids, squeeze, priest AND command all have You-Tube accounts AND are forced to either move outta town, or live in shame, because all of their neighbors have You-Tube accounts too)

I really don't know what has happened over the ten years since I retired. What with all the attention lurking in every possible vantage point, one would think cops would be on their absolute best behavior. But, instead, rather than worry about what mom and the others might think, it appears that more and more cops are doing the highly retarded, then compounding said act by violating multiple rights of those who would dare record such retardation. BUT, to add insult to the injury, some cop commands seem to be turning a blind eye to these "minor indiscretions."

Folks, I implore you, each and everyone; follow the example shown in Alvie's posting. Open carry your cameras for all to see. Convince all you know to do the same. Let's get a campaign up and running wherein every time a cop interacts with another member of our society, that cop will look around and see dozens of cameras pointed his / her way. And if that doesn't stop the abuse of authority and the abuse of our citizens... then it's time we point something else in their direction.

And for the record:

Michael A. Hill
Retired cop / current camera carrier


  1. The over-riding point of the article is a great one: We've got to exercise our rights, or TPTB tend to forget we've got them.

    These recent moves my states and municipalities to make filming LEOs a crime is insane, and patently unconstitutional.

    Unless the "no expectation of privacy while you're in public" rule is applied to EVERYONE who is in public - LEOs and citizens alike - problems will ensue. And those "problems" will be violent.

    I've always got either the camera/video of my smart phone or my Flip Video (awesome, BTW) with me at all times.

  2. Regarding Rodney King, I agree the police went too far. Simple as that. This was not a racist attack King was resisting and had greater strength then the police and threw them off him when they tried to subdue him. What they should have done was when he refused to obey orders and threw the first punch was take out a gun and shoot him. It was the mistaken belief thatthey could control the situation when King was so high he couldn't feel pain, that doomed them. If I found myself in that situation I would ask for the license and whem confronted with violence I would defend myself with two shots to the chest. Then I would welcome the camera. By the way it was what the camera in the King incident didn't capture that made all the difference. We only saw the over reaction of the police not the provocation.

    Try an experiment: Get some 220 lb friend who is very atheletic and an experienced brawler and challenege him. The goal is you subdue him without getting hurt and he stop you by any means possible. See if you still think those cops should have kept their clubs in their belts...