Now Playing: Filming the police - as they film us - who is doing what when?
Big Brother is watching you watching Big BrotherAs more citizens videotape cops, more cops contemplate videotaping citizens
Monday, October 20, 2008
I n 1991, after the world watched the videotaped beating by Los Angeles cops of Rodney King, Portland Police Chief Tom Potter sent a training bulletin to his troops. Welcome, he said, to your new world.
Now get used to it. Potter's message: Citizens had every right to record police officers making arrests in a public place.
Sadly, some members of the Portland Police Bureau still don't get it. Early this year, Mike Tabor turned his lens on two Portland cops who were rousting a couple of men on a downtown sidewalk. One of the officers confiscated Tabor's camera and ticketed him for breaking the law by recording them without their permission. Wisely, the district attorney declined to prosecute.
But Tabor isn't done. He's now urging the Portland Police Bureau to adopt a written policy stating that citizens have the right to make video -- and audio -- records of police actions. Portland cops aren't alone in this conflict. Beaverton police recently arrested an Aloha man on accusations that he illegally recorded an arrest using his cell phone. They claimed the audio part of that recording violated state law.
There is indeed a law -- ORS 165.540 -- making it generally illegal to tape-record a conversation without first obtaining permission. But Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer recognizes that it's no longer possible for either the law or her bureau's policies to separate video from audio recording. After all, half the people in Portland, it sometimes seems, already carry a cell phone that does both. "Technology," says Sizer "seems to have outstripped the law. Rather than pursue a piecemeal city-by-city, or county-by-county approach, the Legislature should take care of it."
As for Tabor, he's now pushing beyond trying to establish a right for citizens to record arrests on the street or in a public place. He's calling for a city policy embracing the right of people to record police actions on private property. In your front yard, say. Or your living room.
(By the way I dont agree with this "living room inference) (lets get real folks! ~joe)
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