Thursday, July 24, 2014

Photographing police officers in public

There has been a continued practice of police officers claiming that private individuals photographing or videoing them during the course of their duties is a violation of a law. This most recently occurred when a Border Patrol Agent accosted a group of Boy Scouts in Alaska.
Boy Scout Troop 111 Leader Jim Fox spelled out what happened to him and the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111 as four van-loads of Scouts and adult volunteers tried to drive from Canada into Alaska.
Fox said one of the Scouts took a picture of a border official, which spurred agents to detain everyone in that van and search them and their belongings.
“The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and 10 years in prison,” Fox said.
Fox said he was told it is a federal offense to take a picture of a federal agent.
Not wanting things to escalate, Fox said he did not complain.
Another of the Scouts was taking luggage from the top of a van to be searched when something startling happened.
“He hears a snap of a holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head,” Fox explained. [emphasis added].!bjWo9y

Of course, there is no such federal or state law in Alaska, despite the Border Patrol Agent's claim. There have been many such abuses all across the nation. Fortunately, the legal system is catching up, and officers have been reprimanded, sued civilly and in some case prosecuted for these actions.

The ACLU recently clarified the right to photograph in public.
Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.

Police and Law Enforcement are constantly encroaching on the privacy rights of citizens by installing ever more surveillance cameras and utilizing other forms of invasive technology. Fortunately, police abuses of power can be photographed by every person with a smart phone to ensure they are on their best behaviour.

No comments:

Post a Comment