Politics Magazine

Court Says Taping Of Police Is Legal

Posted on the 28 November 2012 by Jobsanger
Court Says Taping Of Police Is Legal Having spent most of my adult life in various aspects of law enforcement, I have to say police brutality is neither required nor desired to uphold the law. Fortunately, it is not nearly as common as some would have us believe, but it does exist -- and it is opposed by decent law enforcement officers everywhere. That's because one bad officer can tarnish the reputation of a whole department and all the good officers in it.
In this technological society, citizens have a very effective tool to prevent any brutality that might happen or record it when it happens. It is the ability to tape the incident (which today can be done with most cell phones). Some people, both those prone to violence and others who mistakenly think it takes unnecessary violence to police this country, are opposed to the taping of police officers in the performance of their duties. I disagree. Any officer who simply follows the rules of his/her own department should have no fear of being taped.
Courts around the country have upheld the right of citizens to video-tape police in the performance of their duties, but one state thought they had found a way around that. Illinois is a state that has a law preventing the audio-taping of anyone unless all individuals being taped have given their permission. They enhanced this law to make it a felony to audio-tape a policeman, even in the public performance of his/her duties -- punishable by a prison term of from 4 to 15 years. This would make illegal any kind of taping, video or otherwise, that had an audio component.
The law was upheld by a Chicago judge, but overturned by a federal appeals court. The appeals court issued a temporary restraining order preventing any charges resulting from audio-taping of police. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A couple of days ago, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, effectively upholding the action taken by the appeals court. Now the ACLU has asked the appeals court to make their temporary injunction a permanent one -- and with the Supreme Court refusing to hear the case, that will probably happen.
This is another small victory for free speech. In the United States, citizens have the right to photograph, video-tape, or audio-tape any public event -- even when the police are involved and have not given their consent. And that's the way it should be in a free country.

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