Court says public has right to video police in public places

A Boston lawyer suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record a drug arrest on the Common won a victory today when a federal appeals court said the officers could not claim "qualified immunity" because they were performing their job when they arrested him under a state law that bars audio recordings without the consent of both parties.

In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the way Glik was arrested and his phone seized under a state wiretapping law violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights:

The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment's aegis extends further than the text's proscription on laws "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, "the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw." ...

Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting "the free discussion of governmental affairs."

The court noted that past decisions on police recording had involved fulltime reporters, but said the First Amendment does not apply just to professional news gatherers.

Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

The court continued that while exercise of these rights do come with limits in certain circumstances, an arrest on the Boston Common, "the oldest city park in the United States and the apotheosis of a public forum," is not one of them.



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    PDF icon Complete ruling, Glik v. Cunniffe99.42 KB


    Court ruling

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    This is great! It never made sense to me that MA was one of the states that prohibited this. Yay for first amendment rights!

    Not yet

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    She's too busy bootlicking Obama's shoe as he stomps on AG Schneiderman in NY state for trying to go after the Wall Street crooks who illegally robbed America's mortgage markets.

    this ruling is great news

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    We don't always have good cops or good pols but we have good courts and I thank them. They got this exactly right.

    No longer will an a-hole cops arrest an innocent bystanders for recording their actions in a public place. (When you think about it, if they weren't doing anything wrong, why were they worried about it?)

    Every single one of those arrests was unconstitutional (assuming they were not in violation of other laws, and if they were they would have been arrested for that.) What an egregious abuse of power that wasted so much of good peoples good time, and at such a great cost to taxpayers who taxes fund the courts.

    And finally, that Martha Coakley didn't lift a finger to address this makes me sick, and at the same time, it makes me glad I didn't vote for her, but nonetheless makes me twice as determined to get the fisco that is Scott Brown of out the Peoples Seat.

    not doing wrong

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    So everyone else freaks out because they get recorded in public places but if it happens to law enforcement it's okay. Hopefully everyone else remembers what this anonymous poster said, and don't worry about it if you're not doing something wrong.

    You have every right to freak

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    Which is probably the last thing you'd want to do while on film.

    But you have no other right but to walk away.

    RE: not doing wrong

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    Yes, if it happens to law enforcement it's okay - they are ostensibly performing their duties on our behalf. They should have no expectation of privacy in that regard.

    Doesn't hold water

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    Your opinion doesn't hold water. Police are a public servant. When they are on the public dime at work, the people are subject to know EVERYTHING that they are doing. If they don't like it, then don't make the public the people that cut your paycheck. As you said though, and this is for the cops, if they aren't doing anything wrong, they don't have anything to worry about. The average Joe is not on the people's dime. He is not a public servant, so he is afforded certain rights that the police are not, while they are on duty.

    Recording an American citizen

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    Recording an American citizen who is not payed for by tax payer dollars, who does not have the ability to make arrests, and who have the right to not being harassed by perverts is incredibly different from recording a police officer who can make arrests (which means they can affect one's: life, health, property, and civil rights legally), and who should have no problem being observed if he or she is following procedure.

    If a police officer has trouble doing their job while being filmed it means a few things: they are not properly trained, they are not used to upholding the law without using questionable force, they are not able to follow procedure, and it may mean that they often abuse their power.

    By taking away a citizen's rights to record a police officer puts citizens at a major disadvantage. The law is already on a police officers side. By taking away our rights to record a police officer puts us in danger and it takes away our right to a fair trial, since we can not provide viable and/or sufficient proof. Since your word versus a police officers word are held at different esteems in the eyes of the court.

    By taking away a video recording which shows events as it happened makes no sense.

    public servants in the performance of public duty: public record

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    a police officer in the performance of their duty is a public servant, they are essentially our employees
    they have cameras on the dash of their car, imo, these cameras should run the _entire_ time they are on duty (the technology is there) and be available via the freedom of information act
    one could even go one step further and replace dash cameras with cameras on their person
    furthermore any other public servant, be they legislative or judicial, be subject to the same scrutiny, excepting cases involving juveniles, protected witnesses or national security (which should be defined clearly as matters involving military)
    to suggest that a citizen doesnt have the right to record an officer in the performance of his duty, a matter which, by law, is public record, is asinine

    right to know

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    The first step to tyranny is to hide what you are doing. When all actions are shown for what they are then the state has nothing to fear, rather they have something to fear if they hide.


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    Agreed, with caveats

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    While I agree that this ruling is, indeed, a great step forward, I disagree that this will prevent police from arresting people.

    I was arrested a few years back while photographing, from ~75ft away -- across two platforms and two train aisles -- the aftermath of a stabbing in Boston. The victim was not visible in my photographs, nor was I visible to the victim.

    Photography on the MBTA is an expressly permitted action by their own rules and my presence was not an interruption of police activities (nor was I accused of such).

    Regardless, that did not stop an officer from arresting me and roughing me up a bit in the process.

    The arresting officer lied on his affidavit, claiming the victim was so agitated by my presence that she "began urinating and defecating upon herself." My series of pictures, taken at less than 1sec intervals clearly show that this is not the case.

    I requested the report from the attending emergency personnel to present at the hearing, none was provided.

    I requested video of the area from the MBTA to present in court, no video was requested.

    The judge not only threw out the arrest but reduced my court fees from $400 to $150 and proceeded to chew out the prosecution, saying "you should hire this guy, not arrest him."

    The truth of the matter is that cops will arrest people because it's us, not them, who have to hire a lawyer, take time off work and go to court. Further, they're not at all above lying under oath in order to substantiate their claim.

    And they wonder why they do not get the support or respect of the community they abuse.

    The same thing will happen in these matters; police will arrest people whenever they feel like it and the worst that can happen from their perspective is the charge is thrown out. Meanwhile you've been prevented from collecting information the public has a right to know.

    Title 18 U.S.C. Section 242

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    Deprivation of rights under color of law. If they arrest you for something that no Reasonable Person would think is a crime, and it isn't a crime, then they can be held criminally and financially liable. That is what this first circuit decision is over. He is suing the officer. That is why they won't continue this atrocious behavior.

    poor rational on video taping concerns

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    The "not doing anything wrong" arguement is a bogus cop-out, and more to the point isn't even relevant here. (This arguement is frequently used to dismiss concerns about privacy. Keep in mind people can always misuse your private information and you should strive to strengthen it's protections.)

    What is relevant is law enforcement, sometimes against police, frequently turns on witnesses. The more accurate the witness the better. People botch it sometimes, and some law enforcement officers break bad. Video has possibly done more to fight this fact than anything else.

    We're talking about events in public, you know like the Rodney King beating and the more recent lawless actions of some cops in New Orleans.

    You know how you know even the establishment knows the taping is legit? They abuse wiretapping laws to fight it...

    If you think this will stop

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    If you think this will stop the cops from arresting people for this sort of action, watch the papers. It's only going to make it easier to get the innocent victims off.


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    Has been getting the law, common sense, and basic human decency wrong since long before President Obama turned up on our RADAR. Blame where it is due, please.

    Don't you mean individual

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    Don't you mean individual rights; the 1st Amendment doesn't grant you any rights, it protects them from the government.

    Martha Croaklied didn't have

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    Martha Croaklied didn't have the balls to investigate and prosecute crooked cops, that would only expose the Mass SSS tactics to stay in power.

    Anon in JP, the laws of the

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    Anon in JP, the laws of the state of Massachusetts don't prohibit it. That doesn't mean that cops can't arrest you for it, or even win a court case against you, because cops can get away with all sorts of things.

    So simple...

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    Really. Who do we fire for even requring that this go to court?


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    About time Boston Police (and the city, and the district attorney that idiotically prosecuted this) got slapped in the face and reminded they serve the public, not the other way around. There is a very special breed of arrogance in those circles, and this was long overdue.

    Of course, this won't actually stop people from getting their cameras smashed/confiscated, or threatened.

    One interesting implication: "Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status."

    Do the state police still issue press passes?

    Why yes, they do

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    The state court system, however, is working on a courtroom photo policy that would not require any traditional accreditation like that.

    no one really got slapped in the face.

    There are many bogus arrests made every week by dumb police officers who either don't have common sense, or just don't know the law.

    Assholes who disrupt police investigations with cameras or no cameras can be charged with a variety of crimes. A bogus police officer can write a bogus police report, and a good police officer can right a fair and just police report with just charges.

    These cases rarely happen because police officers aren't dumb enough to lose a 100k year job because they might look bad on camera.

    these cases happen all the time

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    "These cases rarely happen because police officers aren't dumb enough to lose a 100k year job because they might look bad on camera."

    The only way to get fired as a BPD officer is to bring millions of dollars of cocaine into the city while running a prostitution ring. And get caught red-handed.

    Short of that, just about everything else is OK, thanks to a supremely powerful union.

    Get caught red handed and

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    Get caught red handed and have AT LEAST a dozen newspapers run it on their front pages.

    you are correct, but it goes far beyond that...

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    It was perhaps 30+ years ago when a news article appeared in the Boston Globe that astounded me ..

    It involved an episode of police behaviour where , in some court 'prisoner transport' situation, a prisoner managed to use some weapon in his attempt to escape custody. There was a shoot-out , and bullets were flying .. and some not flying in the intended direction.
    The result was this: the BPD changed its rules to allow its officers to purchase (eg, Glock) weapons that have a 'teflon' lined barrel: a barrel that does not cause identifying markings to be made on the bullet, thereby protecting the identity of the shooter. The *only* logical reason for this administrative decision was to protect police officers who may have shot innocent victims.
    To this day, Ive not seen any subsequent news article addressing this outrageous deformation of rules of behavior of any police department.
    I'm just waiting for the day when this act of administrative malfeasance act will come to light .

    So,Only a person with a 'home page' may comment here??

    Police behaviour

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    getting teflon lined barrels after that, DOES establish a pattern of corrupt behaviour. The question is, could you get the prosicution to actually go after them for it?

    >>>weapons that have a

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    >>>weapons that have a 'teflon' lined barrel: a barrel that does not cause identifying markings to be made on the bullet<<<

    That's bogus - no such thing

    Oh, I get it

    Shooting video and pictures will now be "disrupting a police investigation" rather than "wiretapping".

    Interesting cha-cha-cha there to avoid further compliance with pretty basic constitutional rights.

    Contempt of cop

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    Contempt of cop doesn't need a law. It has 10 of them.

    Hey Kaz and Swirrly...

    Ever try to investigate a serious crime where someone that isn't involved comes up to you and tries to intefere with you in some way or another because that person thinks they know what is going on when they actually dont? And when they are intefering with you (either by talking, yelling, grabbing, pushing, touching you) the person you are trying to control tries to either escape, attempts to hurt you, someone else, or do something else illegal?

    Of course not.

    I already know about the bad cops who try to make up things to cover up their own incompetence. I'm not talking about those bad cops. These are the ones you are talking about, just like the ones in the Gilk case.

    I'm talking about the good honest cops who do the right thing and protect innocent people and some know-it-all comes in and thinks they know what is right just because they think the cops might be profiling or something else which is perfectly legal.


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    But this ruling, and the misuse of the law on the books wasn't about that.

    And how exactly is quietly

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    And how exactly is quietly videotaping something from across the street interfering with a police attempt to investigate or arrest someone? Does the heat of the camera lens cause undue stress to the officer? In what way is your comment relevant to the situation at hand?

    >just because they think the

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    >just because they think the cops might be profiling or something else which is perfectly legal.

    Legal does not always mean Correct...
    Going further, what is the issue with transparency?
    If "Filmed_Offical" isn't doing anything Illegal or off protocol, there is no harm of it being recorded from a distance.

    This isn't Physics, and the "Observer Effect" has no precedence in public government actions.

    Glik was not interfering with the arrest

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    I know that you want to defend your fellow police officers, but Glik was 10 feet away while the suspect was being subdued and arrested. There is no claim that Glik did anything to interfere other than film the actions of the officers. Glik is not accused of "talking, yelling, grabbing, pushing, or touching" any of the officers. Moreover, it was the officers that approached Glik not the other way round.

    So please explain to all of us how Glik was interfering with the arrest. And how filming the actions of the police is not something that we should allow if not welcome. The court clearly did not buy your argument.

    And this has what to do with videotaping and photographing, how?

    And when they are intefering with you (either by talking, yelling, grabbing, pushing, touching you) the person you are trying to control tries to either escape, attempts to hurt you, someone else, or do something else illegal?

    Grabbing, pushing, touching = interfering = different issue
    Videotaping or photographing != interfering

    Maybe if you were to say something relevant to the ruling at hand and the fact that we have not one but two original portions of the Bill of Rights in play here, we would stop mocking you.

    Because Swirrly

    When people do break the law by doing the above illegal acts, after the fact they say that all they were doing was "peacefully" watching and recording the police in public, when in reality they were doing the above illegal acts.

    And people like you will believe them over the good cop in probably every situation, even though they would be lying. And it doesn't matter who you mock, because your opinion means nothing.

    Sure the cops could be lying, and that is why I pointed that out in the first place.

    Go back to that story about the chinese place in dedham where you belived the customers over the police and management with only the information you read on second hand blogs by mostly anon posters.

    And no one gets mocked on here more than the swrillyworld princess.


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    I've never seen someone record themselves interfering with a police activity, but I have seen many videos of police accusing people of interfering.
    Usually during these videos the Officers are usually pretty aggressive with handling / palming / pushing away any kind of recording device and doing their best to block any angle the "temporary journalist" might be getting of the police action being taken.

    Why try and keep what's going on away from the public eye? If nothing is wrong, then there is nothing to hide from the regular bystander or viewer?

    I believe they were doing it

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    I believe they were doing it peaceably when the video indicates they were. We are, after all, talking about people that are video recording things. Odds are, the recording can give us some hints as to what their behavior was during the recording.

    Nice, you argue in circles.

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    Nice, you argue in circles. The court just said that the person who took the pics/video was NOT doing something against the law aka "illegal". In fact, he was doing something protected by the Constitution?

    Lets face it: you just can't keep up with an argument.

    You would be better off just doing traffic details: more (unearned) money, less dealing with those pesky citizens.

    So, am I characterizing your argument correctly?

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    Since sometimes citizens might cross the line and interfere with an arrest the officer is making, then it's understandable if that cop would interfere with the lawful recording of an arrest they are making in other cases?

    I mean that must be your argument, right? Otherwise what does the fact that some citizens break the law have to do with cops who break the law?

    Also, shouldn't we expect officers to be better prepared to be more professional and expect them to take the morally higher-ground than any citizen they are supposedly tasked to keep in line?

    Unfortunately, in your example, the citizen is attempting to lie because he's screwed up when dealing with an authority figure. In the actual case, according to the court the authority figure has essentially screwed up and is attempting to use its power to suppress a citizen's legal rights. You don't see a bigger problem with the latter than the former?

    No that isn't my point.

    My main point is that the Boston Police, or any law enforcement agency, at any level (local, state, federal) aren't changing policies or the way they operate at any level. Videotaping in public has always been allowed, and officers have been instructed not to arrest or charge people with a crime like this since I have been active in law enforcment in the Boston area (about 20 years). This case doesn't change anyhthing, and nothing in any Boston police policy or state law needs to be changed here. All of my other points were secondary.

    Often times there comes a point where an officer tells someone to do something within their legal power (back up, leave an area, stop talking so the officer can interview someone, etc), and another person is videotaping/audiotaping them while they refuse to listen to the officer. Does the arrestee (not the person who intefered with the audiotape) have the right to be recorded by the third person if the statements might incriminate him? What if the audio came from somewhere else?

    You should expect officers to be better prepared for every situation like this, and as I pointed out above, there are some pretty inept police officers that simply shouldn't have been hired in the first place. Those officers are going to charge many people with crimes that they shouldn't be charge with.

    And the Bill of Rights isn't some black and white document like Swirrly wants to point out. 2nd Amendment nutjobs should make that clear.


    Your comment about "MANY" police departments would be true if the article you cited wasn't based on just one police department.

    But Boston hires inept officers in other ways though something called Civil Service.

    You keep dancing around the

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    You keep dancing around the actual questions and continue to fabricate a scenario that supports your invalid position because pretty much everything you've replied with is not even at question.

    Instead of having an option and fabricating a situation around it, how about actually addressing points that are relative. Even though it's cliche, you seem well practiced at "painting" a particular situation to fit your desired impression.

    "And people like you will

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    "And people like you will believe them over the good cop in probably every situation, even though they would be lying."

    Which is why it is convenient that someone filmed the entire incident, is it not? The cops can use the video to show that a crime was committed.

    Except they don't. They try to destroy evidence and invent charges to cover up their cover up of the crime they know they have committed.

    There is no such thing as a good cop. There are simply cops who have been caught abusing their power, and cops that haven't. The truth is they ALL do it. Especially when they all suddenly can't identify their best mate in a video who is beating some unconscious suspect.

    When a protester is hauled in front of a judge, every cop there can positively identify him as the culprit. But when one of those cops is caught on film hitting on old lady with a baton at the same protest, suddenly no other cop has a clue who that cop is.

    We, "the people", have heard and seen far too many "good cops" covering for "bad cops" to ever believe there is a difference.

    The "good cops" don't arrest the "bad cops", and thus there are no "good cops". You coming here to defend those "bad cops" by saying "you just don't understand", makes you one of the "bad cops".

    I also note that in not one of these videos, even when it is clear from their actions that they don't agree with what the other cop is doing, does any cop ever STOP whatever is going on.

    No, we see video of cops standing around and watching as a crime is committed, because the person committing the crime is a "brother officer".

    Then the union and the command suspend the officers involved - AKA paid vacation - wait for the heat to die down, and it's back to the party!

    You must be a cop!

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    Otherwise, why go into an entirely irrelevant rant about people who (may) actually interfere with an arrest?

    Do you understand how clueless you sound, Mr. Detective, when you attempt to tie people who actually assault (grabbing, pushing, touching) you in the course of your investigation with those who simply hold up a flip-phone?

    So your job is tough. But please: as long as you have that revolver on your hip, we don't care to listen to you whine about how put upon, or how threatened, you feel.

    Perhaps you should be transferred to Administrative Night Duty.........

    Mr Detective??

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    Revolver? wow somebody is displaying their ignorance of what has happened in law enforcement in the last thirty years, besides the fact that most departments have "unsworn" personell for administrative functions. On the other hand I agree that videotaping an arrest is NOT interfering and the irony is that for years Police and supporters have told people search warrants are redundant if you have nothing to hide, you should just allow police access to an automobile a residence etc. Do redlight cameras interfere with my driving?

    Hey, Nice: suck on THIS,

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    Hey, Nice: suck on THIS, which is in the decision at hand:

    "See City of Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451, 461
    (1987) ("[T]he First Amendment protects a significant amount of
    verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers.").
    Indeed, "[t]he freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or
    challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of
    the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation
    from a police state."

    You really shouldn't be a cop if you can't take "verbal criticism and challenges".

    Turn in your badge --- do it tonight!

    Sorry Anna Keppa

    Just got off my 5th detail in a row.

    Just made $1,750 this weekend.

    Almost up to 200K for the year. Kind of tired to read all your garbage. Sorry.



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    Nice, if you are indeed a cop, you ARE the bad cops we talk about. It doesn't matter if YOU think you are or not, YOU are one of the people responsible for it being US vs YOU. It never had to be that way, but you take it upon yourself to put yourself above the citizen in some bizarre attempt to justify it all in the name of upholding the law. You should not be a cop. Period. The best service YOU could ever do for the people you are supposed to protect is resign. That is all, now go back to pretending you represent order.

    Hold on sorry,

    The storm gave me some overtime on top of that detial pay.

    Make that $2,250 this weekend.

    Relax Langford. Don't take everything so seriously.

    Pete Nice is full of crap.

    He said in comments on these pages that he was a former policeman who works in an Athletics Dept now.

    His claim of making thousands over the weekend working at BPD earning overtime strikes me as a the kind of lie that sounds plausible and is meant to be a finger in the eye of readers who have trouble respecting his point of view and to boost his "credibility".

    Oh I still have my law enforcement powers.

    I just don't work as a regular police officer for the Boston police.

    I enjoy making less money doing something I love doing with college and high school athletes in the inner city.

    And by law enforcement powers

    You mean your +2 Streetwork attack, which makes utility companies pay you big bucks to stand near a hole playing angry birds?

    Or are you talking about your +5 Pimp-Smack of Gimmemycut?


    But the pimp-smack has always been one of my favorite finishing moves.


    Take the Civil Service Test in April. If you live in towns like Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Medford, Quincy, you should get a job within 2 years if you went to college.

    These departments can't even fill the minimum amount of spots with people they want (college educated that can score above a 95 on the test). And this is after the veteran/minority hiring lists.

    If you speak Spanish you will also be pretty much guarenteed a job if you score above a 95 (95 would be like getting a 800 on the SATs)

    Wow 2250 for a cop for a

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    Wow 2250 for a cop for a weekend what a waste of my money. WHERE ARE THE FLAGGERS THAT R SUPPOSED TO BE DOING DETAILS IN MA NOW.Never met a police officer that wasnt crooked to a degree even friends that are police. I cant wait till we can no longer afford to keep you lazy fat pieces of constituition trampling shit on the payroll. RON PAUL BITCHES... PS i love filmong police and do every encounter i have with them. the pleasure of there frustration is gold... Oh ya hows the war on drugs going?

    Congrats on the money

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    Overpaid cops like you are the main reason we're having to lay off policemen in my town.

    Not really.

    Your town agreed to pay your police officers too much, that is why they are laying them off, or because your town doesn't have the money to pay them.

    I get that....BUT

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    The ruling pertains to videotaping an officer in a public place. I can zoom in from a block away and get a pretty clear recording of the entire incident. Want to bet that some cop is going to harass someone in a situation like that for 'interference?'

    The truth is that cops fear having the light shined on them. I understand that the public's perception of an event can be skewed by incomplete information, creative editing, and 'group-think.' But the fact remains that the police need to be held to a standard of accountability that can only be achieved through the use of an impartial media.

    "And when they are intefering

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    "And when they are intefering with you (either by talking, yelling, grabbing, pushing, touching you) the person you are trying to control tries to either escape, attempts to hurt you, someone else, or do something else illegal?"

    The problem for your argument is that the cases that have been highlighted are NOTHING like that at all. In fact most of the time the cops involved have to go around after the fact trying to find the cameras because the people simply filmed from the sidelines and didn't get involved at all.

    Usually the end of the video shows some cop walking over from the scene to the videographer and demanding they erase their film. I've never seen a single video of someone running in and touching the cops and yelling at them while filming.

    So sure, in your strawman version of the argument, police have every right to arrest people interfering with an investigation. Luckily for us, the courts ruled on the REAL events rather than your invented ones. They ruled that standing on the sideline filming is NOT interfering with an investigation. In fact it IS an investigation by citizens of their government which itself is a Constitutionally protected activity.

    The cops are breaking the law when they harass videographers. THEY are the ones who should be arrested.

    One other point... police are often filmed telling people to erase their film. Isn't that destruction of evidence? Isn't that itself a crime? Even if the videographer has committed a crime, the film would be evidence of it as well as evidence for the original investigation. Yet cops never seem interested in PRESERVING that evidence. Why is that?

    The only problem is.....

    You never see the times cops "preserve" that "evidence".

    Because they make boring youtube clips for people like you to see.

    of course

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    Of course we don't youtube the good arrests, the good arrests are what is expected of you, they are not "heroic acts" they are what you are paid to do. I served in the military, we didn't expect to have people crowing about how great we were, because we did what we did because it was our job, not for the kudo's. If you do not think that doing your job the way you are supposed to and receiving your paycheck in return is enough, you are in the wrong line of work.

    I'm not talking about good arrests

    I'm talking about boring things like gathering evidence and other routine situations that wouldn't make interesting videos.

    And many people in the military and police departments are the same. They all chose to do what they do, and many of them think they are better than they are, and many choose those jobs because they are both jobs that you don't need a college degree to do.

    And give me a break about "heroic acts".

    If any person, cop or not risks their life to help someone else, they can be considered a hero. It is the act that makes you a hero, not your job title.

    Are you telling me that we shouldn't give out medals of honor for soldiers because they are just doing their job?

    Recording police

    So Pete, I gather that so long as Mr. Bystander with the camera isn't talking, yelling, grabbing, pushing or touching you while you're investigating a serious crime, you're OK with him recording you. Am I correct? And it seems to me that knowing or not knowing "what is going on" has no bearing whatsoever on a citizen's right to free speech, symbolized in this case by his use of a recoding device in public. Right? If you fall back on the lame excuse that because you do not consent to such a recording it is therefore "illegal surveillance" or an "illegal wiretap (huh??), then surely if I decline to be videotaped by the cops any recording made of me is likewise illegal, yes? Anxiously awaiting your reply....

    Sure I am ok with that.

    People record the police all the time and I have been recorded. Not a big deal. If there was a dead body or some evidence that shouldn't be recorded for the public to see before the scene is processed, the police may have a right to sieze videotape at a scene. That would be a rare case.

    And yes, you have the right to refuse to be audiotaped by the police or anyone without a warrant. Anytime you are videotaped or audiotaped by the police, they make you sign a waiver. Many statements by defendents have been thrown out of court because they were audiotaped without their consent. You see this for the most part when people call recorded 911 lines and incrimniate themselves when the dispatch doesn't tell them they are being recorded, OUIL arrests and bookings where the defendent wasn't advised of the audio recording, or interrogations and interviews where the suspect wasn't aware of the taping (they are supposed to sign a waiver for bookings and interrorgations.)

    Pete - I'm not sure where

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    Pete - I'm not sure where you're from, but 911 lines and radio conversations with officers in the field are recorded as a matter of course where I'm from (MN). There are many reasons for this, but mostly as evidence in liability cases (to prove dispatchers followed appropriate procedures) as well as re-constructing events following an incident.

    In local holding facilities here, cameras are everywhere and are obvious to anyone that can turn their head. Patrol cars have dash-cams that record audio from a mic the officer is wearing as well as ambient audio from inside the vehicle. As soon as you're arrested, you should expect to lose all privacy.

    Personally, I would expect ALL conversations with law-enforcement, including 911 calls, to be used as potential evidence regardless of the ability or foresight to have such conversations recorded. An officer's testimony in just about any case would be considered overwhelming evidence. Any audio or video recording would simply be icing on the cake.

    Additionally, regarding the high-level discussion of citizens recording officers while on-duty, police officers are granted certain, limited elevated privileges in order to do their job. In exchange, they are expected to uphold the highest standards and use those privileges responsibly. Citizens can and should verify the behavior of officers meets or exceeds those high standards. They are already recorded by their own equipment while on-duty. As a result, it is unreasonable to expect a citizen to stop recording an on-duty officer for any reason so long as they are not interfering with the officer's job.

    Yes they are recorded.

    But they usually tell you that you are being recorded before you can say something. That gets you around the "secret" audiotaping. But the audiotaping and evesdropping by police can be an issue with statments made by those under arrest (incriminating statements over the phone to a 3rd party, before miranda statements that are made in a non-custodial situation, after miranda but not during an interview, etc, etc)

    The videotaping is different.

    When you are arrested, you lose some privacy, but laws are set up to protect you even after you are arrested for various reasons.

    I agree with what you are saying though.

    Pete, here is the comment you MEANT to write

    I'm glad to see the court's resolution in Glik. Bad cops (who try to make up things to cover up their own incompetence) spoil the public's trust in the rest of us. This decision doesn't affect good honest cops who do the right thing, and it protects citizens from the losers that shame my badge.


    But I never read the initial Gilk report, and I didn't see what happened.

    But people have the right to record people in public for the most part yes.

    That's a completely different

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    That's a completely different story. If the person is obstructing a police officers ability to perform maneuvers and/or safely contain the suspect then it is the recording citizens fault. However, what says you about incidents where police officers approach a recording citizen? Or one that is sufficiently far away. I have rarely seen or heard of a video where a police officer first says, "Please back away from the scene." Instead, when you see a controversial viral video of a police officer's misconduct you hear them shouting for people to stop recording. Why stop recording if you are not in the way?

    Also in most videos the individual being arrested is actually begging for someone to witness the injustice applied to their person. It would also be a different matter if the individual being arrested angrily shouts at the recorder to stop filming, those being arrested should have the right to not be subjected to video recordings but not civil servants.

    Also American citizens have the right to observe civil servants such as that in the U.S. Congress/court. What right do police officers have to not include themselves?

    One way rights

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    The police videotape you without permission with their dashboard cam whenever you are pulled over. In Sioux Falls, SD, they record conversations you have with them while sitting in their sqaud car, but do not inform you that you are being recorded. It is reasonable that the police should want to collect information related to criminal activity, and that they should want to record things as they happen to protect themselve from false accusations.

    What is unreasonable is that they don't inform you that you are being audiotaped. What is also unreasonable is that they don't want us, the public at large, taping their actions to protect us from any wrongdoing or excesses on their part.

    They honestly believe that the freedoms in our country should run one direction only - to their benefit.

    Don Seten

    This isn't South Dakota

    Police Departments in MA are bound by US Supreme Court decisions like Miranda, Gates, etc.

    In MA, departments inform you that you are audiotaped, mostly because of the wiretapping law, but also because of Miranda like issues.

    we are filmed daily

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    Most of us are filmed daily by unknown entities

    why can't they be subject to the same scrutiny

    It would make me feel safer If they had no problem with being recorded, it would ensure they are doing their job correctly

    Jury Rights, the Right to Gather Exculpatory Evidence...

    Google "The War On Cameras." If we lose the right to video record our government masters in public, then we lose all chance of returning the country to freedom. Look at hellholes like Thailand, China, and Singapore, where there are no jury trials, and you can be sentenced to death for victimless crimes (because America exported the drug war it created). The cops and politicians already have what amounts to absolute power, with the unconstitutional IRS, DEA, ATF, FDA, EPA, etc...

    America is a grotesque caricature of its former, proper, Northern self. (The South always was a backwards slave-state.)

    The pathway back to a free America is to spread a knowledge of jury rights among the citizen jury (everyone over 18). The best way to do this is pamphleteering in front of courthouses. If you cannot videotape the goons who are sent out to tell you to "shut up" or "you can't be doing this here," then you have no freedom at all. Such goons are sent out to violate the speech rights of the pamphleteers, 100% of the time.

    So, if you can't take a video of the cops violating your rights, who do you think the jury will believe? You, or the man in blue?

    The jury members were all trained for 12 years in the government youth propaganda camps to worship the police, judges, and prosecutors. (Plus, the prosecutor hand-picked the jury using "voir dire" jury selection, that was originally instated to help Northern judges enforce the Fugitive Slave Law, so the jury is not a constitutional jury.) ...They've probably never encountered a thinking person before. So, unless you have videotape of the cops breaking your camera, you're not only going to be arrested, you're going to jail. This is the result of the grotesque prohitibitions on videotaping government employees.

    If you want to be a slave, allow IL to hold onto its law against videotaping government employees. It will only take one State to allow tyranny to gain a foothold.

    Pamphleteering may be best...

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    The pathway back to a free America is to spread a knowledge of jury rights among the citizen jury (everyone over 18). The best way to do this is pamphleteering in front of courthouses.

    OK, but... Surely, hyperbolic and vaguely tin-foil-hatty rants on web comment forums must also have their uses, right?

    upload technology

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    This is also why we need to prevent governments from blocking technology that can be put in hand helds that will automatically upload your images. Making it futile for them to break your camera/phone/recorder. It's in the cloud brother!

    auto upload

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    Google plus android application allows just that. could also create a "hangout" allowing everyone in your circles to watch it live in real time. Protecting that ability is extremely important as you said.

    Misleading headline; statute not found to be unconstitutional

    The headline to this article currently reads: "Court says state law used to ban recording of police officers in public is unconstitutional."

    I read through the whole ruling. I don't see anywhere where the court concludes that the Mass. wiretapping law (which deals with audio but applies to audiovideo recordings) is entirely unconstitutional. In fact it concludes that the wiretapping law didn't even apply to this case, because the law prohibits secret audio recordings, and Glik's recording was made in full view of the officers, in a manner such that the officers were on notice that they were being audiotaped.

    The court concludes that the arrest was unconstitutional, because it was made without probable cause and because it violated Glik's First Amendment rights.

    Based on the court's comments about the First Amendment right to gather news and information, I suppose this decision could narrow the circumstances in which the wiretapping law can be used to prosecute someone who records a police officer. For example, IANAL but I think this decision might get Hyde off the hook. (The Massachusetts Supreme Court found that he violated the wiretapping law when he secretly audiotaped his conversation with a police officer during a traffic stop.)

    However, even if that were true, I don't think it's right to say the statute has been found unconstitutional; rather, the court would just be saying that it is unconstitutional to apply the statute to certain situations such as Hyde.

    You're right; headline changed

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    The court was not ruling on the constitutionality of the state wiretapping law in general. It was ruling in a case involving the application of that law in a public setting (and technically, the ruling only means the police in the case will have to face Glik's lawsuit, rather than having it dismissed because it involved something they did while on duty).

    Robert Ambrogi, a Massachusetts media lawyer, discusses the ruling, says: "The 1st Circuit's decision reads like a textbook on the First Amendment."

    You are correct, and article is misleading in another place also

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    To dirtywater77 -- You are absolutely correct, and you seem to be one of a very few that have actually read the law: The Massachusetts law only prohibits SECRET recording. It does not require consent.

    The article says, incorrectly, that it "requires the consent of both parties". That is the way the law is always described by those who have not read it. And it was applied that way once again - wrongly - by the Police Chief in Tisbury MA just a week ago when he ordered an arrest for recording.

    If these police officers are

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    If these police officers are trained perfessionals and are suppose to be able to take control of any situation why do they have to use brutality when dealing with individuals. Most of the time the people record because their friend is being beat or something is going on that shouldnt and the police take the phone to delete the evidence that shows them using force against another individual when it was not necassary. Everyone should have the right to video tape a police officer.


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    In a city that has video camera's everywhere filming the public; the cops thought we don't have the right to film them back? Our rights are being taken away and tested every day; i just learned that MA is profiling motorcyclists by setting up "biker" only check points to check stickers, pipes, helmets etc. Isnt that what an inspecition sticker is for? Nope, just an excuse to pull someone over without cause! Meanwhile cops are shooting each other in front of restaurants, getting arrested on child porn (2 days ago) police brutality etc. etc. No wonder they don't want us filming them; along with the government, the cops are the biggest gang around!

    You could clarify this a lot...

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    ... by taking off the table the question of whether the person being recorded is a police officer, on the public payroll, etc., and simply reaffirm the well-established right of the public to take photographs and audio / video recordings of anything that is plainly visible or audible from a place to which the public has a right of access.