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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday August 16 2014, @01:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the now-I-see-you dept.

Olga Khazan writes in The Atlantic that police in Ferguson, Missouri, arrested two reporters Wednesday night as protests over the police shooting of an unarmed teenager continued for the fifth day. The journalists, the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery and the Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly, were only detained for about 15 minutes before being released, but the incident provoked widespread outrage over the Ferguson police's increasingly brutal tactics.

Lowery wrote that armed officers stormed a McDonald's in which he and Reilly were working and demanded to see ID. They then told Lowery to stop video recording them, and finally they ordered the reporters to leave and claimed they weren't leaving fast enough. According to other reports, the Ferguson police also demanded that an MSNBC camera man and a local Fox News crew take down their cameras. Police hit the crew of Al Jazeera America with tear gas and dismantled their gear.

"The arrest and intimidation of journalists for documenting the events in Ferguson is particularly disturbing because it interferes with the ability of the press to hold the government accountable. But actually, anyone journalist or otherwise can take a photo of a police officer," writes Khazan. "Citizens have the right to take pictures of anything in plain view in a public space, including police officers and federal buildings. Police can not confiscate, demand to view, or delete digital photos."

 
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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Saturday August 16 2014, @03:52PM

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Saturday August 16 2014, @03:52PM (#82087) Journal

    In the case of Ferguson, the police are planning to wear body-mounted cameras but haven't implemented them yet.

    It's a good idea that has been gaining traction, but as you say, the implementation has to be very solid to prevent the measure from becoming a mockery. Battery life and cost are issues. Mandating retention of video can be problematic. I think most departments doing this are voluntarily introducing it, and could easily "lose" evidence or have a mysterious hard drive failure. Getting local or state governments to mandate the cameras will be politically difficult, and holding the police accountable for lost video is impossible without close media scrutiny.

    New Orleans Cop Turns off Body Cam before Shooting Man [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    Fortunately, smartphones are nearly everywhere. Regardless of whether or not police are wearing body-mounted cameras, citizens have a right and perhaps even an obligation to record them.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by HiThere on Saturday August 16 2014, @07:14PM

    by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 16 2014, @07:14PM (#82111) Journal

    The important thing is that they NOT be able to turn them off. That they NOT be able to edit the film. Sound recording is important too. And if they take them off or disable them, their evidence can't be used in court. Variation of "fruit of the poisoned tree".

    That still won't stop them from covering the camera while they beat someone up, but it might help a bit.

    Battery life isn't an issue if the police work from squad cars. The batteries can be charging whenever they are in the car. Mandating retention is necessary. And so is reasonable backup. So the retention should be managed outside the department, as well as within the department. Validating the backups is a real problem, as the "tapes" shouldn't be allowed to be seen without a warrant. Hash codes could probably handle this, though, if combined with a program that validates that the file format is readable and interpretable.

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    • (Score: 1) by Nollij on Sunday August 17 2014, @12:16AM

      by Nollij (4559) on Sunday August 17 2014, @12:16AM (#82165)

      Enough battery to record for a full shift (let's say 12 hours, just to be safe) shouldn't be particular big. Glass records for 30 minutes on its tiny battery, and even a pack of 24 of those wouldn't be too large. A specialized design can be much smaller still. Police already carry a lot of specialty gear, so it wouldn't be a big issue. This way, they grab a fully charged camera at the beginning of a shift, and leave it on the charger at the end.

      Most important reason: This city already does it [washingtonpost.com], and complaints against officers are down 88%

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by sjames on Sunday August 17 2014, @01:26AM

      by sjames (2882) on Sunday August 17 2014, @01:26AM (#82185) Journal

      Just treat missing audio/video as destroyed evidence. That is, the court assumes that it would have been favorable to the other party.

      That just leaves somehow making the video tamper evident.

      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Sunday August 17 2014, @07:06PM

        by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 17 2014, @07:06PM (#82350) Journal

        A timing track that records UTC time should work for that. But you still need to ensure that they can't edit it.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18 2014, @09:41AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18 2014, @09:41AM (#82524)

    so "cop turns of body cam before shooting man",
    that should could count as evidence for an automatic murder charge,
    it shows premeditation