Posts Tagged ‘Recording Police’

There should be a right to video-record police

April 14, 2015

15041thedifferenceHat tip to The Weekly Sift

Michael Slager, a policeman in North Charleston, S.C., said he shot and killed 50-year-old Walter Scott because they were engaged in a violent altercation, and Scott grabbed for Slager’s Taser.

There would have been hardly any way to challenge that story if a brave soul named Feidin Santana hadn’t recorded the incident and come forward with the video.

The North Charleston Police Department did do the right thing, by filing murder charges against Slager, once they saw the video.

Unfortunately the public can’t count on somebody with a video camera being in the vicinity every time there is a fatal police shooting.

And more unfortunately still, it’s unclear whether there is a legal or constitutional right to videotape police officers in the course of their duty.  Santana’s camera could very well have been confiscated and the record destroyed.

It would be nice if American police departments made a practice of video recording all police encounters with the public, but I suspect that recordings might have a tendency to be lost or destroyed in cases such as this.

I think there should be laws in every state upholding the right to make video recordings of police and other government employees when they are on duty and in public, subject to restrictions to keep the video photographer from physically getting in the way of police and others doing their jobs.

LINKS

In Many States, Including South Carolina, the Right to Videotape Police Isn’t All That Clear by Daniel Denvir for The Atlantic.  [Hat tip to Cop in the Hood]

Everything The Police Said About Walter Scott’s Death Before a Video Showed What Really Happened by Judd Legum for ThinkProgress.

Walter Scott Shooting Video Caught Police Propaganda Machine in Action by Andrew Jewell Jones for The Intercept.

Worthwhile Obama initiatives

January 27, 2012

Click to enlarge

I’m highly critical of President Obama’s record.  But in fairness, I ought to acknowledge the President’s achievements.   These achievements are real, even though some of them have to be qualified with an asterisk (*).

  • President Obama’s economic stimulus program has apparently helped the economic recovery along.  (*The current economic recovery has been weaker than most post-World War Two recoveries, and it will take a long time to get back to pre-recession conditions, which were none too good to begin with.  Nevertheless, the Obama stimulus program was enacted over Republican resistance to doing anything at all, so the President deserves some credit.)
  • President Obama stuck to his promised timetable for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq. (*Non-combat troops and armed U.S. contractors remain in Iraq, and the Obama administration probably would have kept combat troops in Iraq if the Iraqi government had agreed to give them extraterritorial privilege.  Nevertheless, the President did what he promised to do, and he deserves credit.)
  • The new Defense Department budget calls for a reduction in force and a slowdown in growth in military spending, a necessary step to bring overall federal spending under control.  (*Spending will remain above pre-9/11 levels, and spending will increase on Special Forces and unmanned weapons, thereby increasing the President’s power to wage secret wars.  Nevertheless, this is a politically difficult action.)
  • The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to uphold the right of private citizens to make video recordings of police in the performance of their duties.  As Radley Balko wrote on The Agitator, this is a big deal.  Video evidence is usually the only evidence of police abuse of power except the unsupported word of the victim.  Now, the initiative for this may have come more from Attorney-General Eric Holder than from the President himself, but Obama still deserves credit.  No asterisk here.

Click on Pentagon budget set to shrink next year for the Washington Post’s report on President Obama’s proposed military budget.

Click on DOJ Urges Federal Court to Protect the Right to Record Police for background on this lawsuit.

The Obama administration also deserves credit for the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy toward gays in the military, and for compiling and distributing objective data to physicians on the effectiveness of different forms of medical treatment.  None of this, however, outweighs President Obama’s record on war, civil liberties and pandering to Wall Street.

Click on President Obama and his liberal critics for my case against President Obama.

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