You have a right to record police officers, and this right has been verified by numerous legal cases. But now cops are being trained to treat cell phones as weapons, in an effort to prevent themselves from being recorded.
In the video above, a man recording on his cell phone is ordered to, “put your phone down, put it in your pocket,” by Detective Shannon Todd of the Newark Police Squad. The man refused. Although Todd previously acknowledged that the device was indeed a cellphone, she then told the man she needed to “look at it and inspect it to ensure it’s not a firearm.”
Detective Todd did, indeed, fear being shot — but not by a gun. Rather, she feared being shot by a camera, and becoming a detested viral YouTube star.
Clearly, Todd did not get her wish… The rest of the Newark incident is below:
There are least three other cases where police have tried to stop recording by claiming a camera or cell phone may be a gun: a Sony camera was confiscated by an South Florida officer; an Arizona cop took a man’s phone while he was recording the Exxon oil spill near Little Rock a San Diego; and a cop slapped a cell phone out of a man’s hands, and arrested him for recording while the offer was writing a minor citation. Of course, all of these incidents resulted in exactly what the offers were trying to prevent: YouTube infamy.
In the Little Rock case, the cop told the recording man that he had been trained to assume cell phones could be guns. He said that it was a tactic to ensure safety.
We all want to live in a safe society, but where is the line between reasonable suspicious and an outrageous police state?
Written by Kristin Tate.
Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinBTate.