03 June 2010

Welcome to life in "The Free State"

The Agitator | Radley Balko | In Spite of State Law, Maryland Law Enforcement Officials Still Arresting, Charging People for Recording Cops

But when you combine that with how some Maryland cops and prosecutors are interpreting the law, such as in Graber’s case, you get a perverse result: When a cop pulls you over or detains you for questioning, he—the public servant with the badge and the gun—retains a right to privacy for the entire encounter. You don’t.
I asked a cop an innocent question a while back about how many people he estimated were at a protest at my old high school.  His response was "Is that a recording device?" pointing to my iPod.  I gave him the non-answer answer "it's an iPod."  That seemed to mollify him, though it does have a voice memo function and I could have used it to record him.  I asked if it would be a problem if it was.  I was told it would be illegal.  "Keep up the good work, officer."  I walked away, listening to Cato Institute podcasts and daydreaming about sedition.
McKenna, a student at the University of Maryland, was given an unprovoked beating by police during student celebrations after a basketball game last February. McKenna would probably still be facing criminal charges and the cops who beat him would likely still be on the beat were it not for several cell phone videos that captured his beating. [...]

The McKenna case is a strong argument in favor of more citizen monitoring of on-duty police. The police not only beat the kid, they then lied about it in police reports. The security camera footage of McKenna’s beating, which is controlled by University of Maryland Campus Police, mysteriously disappeared. The officer in charge of the camera system is married to one of the officers involved in the beating. Does anyone really think the charges against McKenna would have been dropped—and the officers who beat him suspended—if it weren’t for the cell phone videos?
I'm a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall evidence of police misconduct, if tapes should get lost, or recording devices should be broken, or records should be misplaced, then I'm going to blame some of the people in this room. And that, I do not forgive.

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