Not exactly a shocking headline, we see it all the time now. Short version, in the clip above a cop is asking to take a pic of someone who was at the courthouse on an unrelated charge to whatever the cop was investigating. A public defender who was handling that person’s case comes out and starts advising the guy, and that’s where it goes off the rails. She gets arrested, obviously a phony arrest, and let go within an hour with no charges.
Based on comments from lawyers weighing in at Daily Kos, it’s perfectly legal for a cop to take a pic of someone in public, just like it’s perfectly legal for you to take a pic of a cop. It’s also perfectly legal for the person to walk away, and if they’re prevented from walking away it’s probably legal for their public defender to get involved. Now, it may be that the cop was narrowly in the right in the sense that just because the public defender was representing that guy on case A, she didn’t necessarily have any special privileges on case B, although that’s a little shakier. Where he clearly screws up royally was getting all pissy and arresting her. The dumbass even tried to block the camera and got caught by a cell phone from a different angle. Brilliant work there Sherlock.
A lot of other commenters around the blogosphere were understandably pissed off, mostly at the thought that the cop will almost certainly avoid any official reprimands. But as someone with cops in the family, I can assure you, this clown is now persona non grata regardless of what his superiors say about the incident or how much they support him. Making a public spectacle of yourself and embarrassing your department on a youtube clip that gets national attention is not a good career move for anyone. He is not on the short list for a raise or promotion any time soon. At the very least he’ll get a good talking to behind closed doors, and his fellow cops are probably already snickering behind his back if not to his face. One of my cop relatives, a detective and also a supervisor, was openly laughing at the cop’s stupidity when I showed this to them, saying this clown probably has a new nickname by now and odds are it’s not a flattering one. Another cop friend suggested the dumbass will get an earful of the “needless escalation” lecture. That basically goes “your poor judgement needlessly escalated an incident that could have been handled through proper channels and under existing policy to national attention which reflects badly on you and the entire department.” I wouldn’t be surprised if he had to sign an internal statement to that effect that was placed in his file and maybe given an afternoon to “review relevant policy.”
The thing that puzzles me the most is how he tries to shield the camera and talk in a low voice to avoid being recorded. In a public building, a courthouse that’s probably already wired to the hilt, and with tons of people walking around in the middle of the day all equipped with smart phones. That’s pretty damn stupid. These days, even if it had been in a more remote location, out on a rural highway or in an alley, cops have just got to get this through their fucking heads: there’s no way they’re going to stop video technology, not gonna happen.
You’d think every cop in America would know that by now, that they can’t keep them shut down or off air, video is only going to be more common, cheaper, less easy to spot, and harder to stop in the near future. In a decade or two there might be cameras on drones the size of flies buzzing around public places in swarms. They better get used to being recorded, ideally they’d learn to make use of it, cameras are everywhere and that trend is only growing. Trying to interfere with that and getting caught on video doing so only makes them look like an even smaller time buffoon.