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Maryland, Massachussetts, & Illinois: Illegal to Record Police Officer, Face life in Prison

M-  Murder and Illegality of Recording Police Officers

My original topic choice for the letter M was murder, but after viewing this video clip, I decided to go with the illegality of video recording a police officer in public.  How does this fit the letter M requirement? 

The first video I watched occurred in Maryland, the second in Massachusetts and the third in Miami. HmmMMMM. I saw a pattern of M's. What sealed the deal, was the video of an Illinois man who faces 75 year for the crime of "eavesdropping", because he recorded the police in public. When the judge in that case announced the severity of the sentence is equal to a sentence for Murder, I felt drawn to the story and compelled to share it. Lastly, the man who provided me much of the footage I viewed and used from Miami, is named Carlos Miller. 

So I think I have covered the reason why this story fits under the category or letter M 


In Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois  it is illegal to record an on-duty police officer even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

Video kind of long, but the first 60 seconds tells enough: Man faces 75 years in prison for recording a police officer without consent.  That is as long or longer than most sentences in that state for murder.

Matt Lutton & Scott Brauer share news and pictures that they find interesting on their Photojournalist Blog

For further reading and to keep updated on the laws against recording police officers, read Carlos Miller's blog Photography is not a Crime.  

Carlos Miller is a Miami Multimedia journalist who has been arrested three times for recording police officers in public. He was beaten by the police during two of those arrest, including one charge and subsequent conviction for Resisting Arrest, a conviction that was later reversed by a higher court.

Miller is in the process of fighting a third arrest, in which the Miami Dade police deleted his footage. The full uncensored video clip can be viewed on his blog.

Below is the raw and uninterrupted five minute clip of Carlos Miller's arrest. It is shocking. The police covered by shields in platoons look like Stormtroopers charging a bomber or terrorist, not a man  they want to arrest for videotaping a police officer in public. What a waste of money, I mean look at the number of  officers used to arrest one non violent, unarmed man. No wonder they deleted this clip from his camera. It is an embarrassment to the Miami Dade Police force.


Here is an update on the arrest of one Maryland man for recording the police. A judge ruled that the police and prosecutors were wrong to arrest and charge a man for taping his own traffic stop and posting it on the internet

Thank god, this judge recognized the absurdity and illegal interference with a man's 1st amendment rights.

Click on the link to be directed to the sign up list of all the participants in the 2012 A to Z blogging challenge.

Have you added the official A to Z blogging challenge navigation button to your blog. The navigation button code can be found on Marcus's fiction writing blog and one of the many benefits is the ability to quickly navigate the challenge without having to scroll up and down a really long page.
Just remember when you look at the button on my sidebar that that it is not indicative of the actual number of blogs I have visited during the challenge.  I just installed it a day or so ago so it does not reflect the number of blogs visited prior to April 12th.  It is still really cool.

So, back to you... What is your opinion on whether or not is should be illegal for a citizen to video record a police officer in public.  It you stumbled upon a clear incident of police brutality and you had your phone with you would you attempt to record it as it could later be offered as evidence in a court of law?

I was a prosecutor for twenty years and I worked very closely with a number of law enforcement agencies from the city and parish level to the state and federal levels and I have the utmost respect and admiration for law enforcement. They have a difficult job to do and their job is becoming increasingly more dangerous all the time. They risk their own lives to get criminals off the streets and they put their lives on the line every day in an effort to make our cities and towns, safer places to live.

Having said that, I also agree that you will find bad apples in every line of work and profession from school teachers to plumbers, to elected officials and law enforcement officers are not excluded or exempt from this statement.  One bad apple does not make a rotten tree.  On one hand, I can see how citizens shouting and thrusting video cameras in police officers' faces as they try to work a case can cause a disturbance. On the other hand, if not for the private recordings made by ordinary citizens then many cases of severe police brutality would go unnoticed, unreported and those police officers would continue to run rampant while administering their own kind of street justice.

What's your take?


Melissa Sugar said...

My initial response is WTF?  It cannot be (one would hope, at the Supreme Court level) illegal to record ANY activity occurring in public, where it is the police arresting (or assaulting) someone, or somebody jaywalking.  Hell, every time you use an ATM you're being recorded, let alone traffic cameras and other security cameras. Of course the person recording shouldn't get in the way of the police doing whatever they are doing, but making a record of it? Something very, very wrong to have laws that prohibit this.

The Murder being done is to our Constitution & Bill of Rights.

Melissa Sugar said...

Wow, I had no idea! Crazy laws. 

I also had no idea about the A to Z code. Thanks for sharing!

Melissa Sugar said...

It is illegal to record police here (in the UAE) but I never expected it to be illegal in some parts of the US as well. I think in some situations it could make the difference between letting someone go and locking them up. 

Melissa Sugar said...

Thanks for stopping by. I like to learn the many differences between the law here and there.

Melissa Sugar said...

 Thanks Laura. I was jsut thinking about you. I've been so busy, I haven't visited many blogs and I was thinking how terrible I felt for not stopping by yours. This A to Z thing is crazy. I never know (with my very limited time) if I should be visiting the blogs of those who visit mine or if I am supposed to still be going down the list starting at my own name. And now the new button gives me random blogs to visit to add to my confusion.

I have bee trying to visit new blogs (the purpose of the challenge-one of them anyway) but I have so neglected the blogs I normally follow.

So, how's it going for you?

Melissa Sugar said...

 You said it best, WTF. I mean, really. We are video taped every time we use an ATM or anything else. We are probably being taped when we wipe our butts in a government building. The laws I read about while writing this post shocked me.

Melissa Sugar said...

It seems like overkill but maybe what were not seeing is that it was a chance to get in some much needed crowd control or riot training.  Sure it's only one person but practice is practice. I also think what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  What about Rodney King and Malice Green?  Is this what the law is for?  To allow police brutality without recourse?  It's too big of a world for me.  I'll just stay home with my dogs and my gardening.  Thanks for stopping by my blog.  New follower as well!

Melissa Sugar said...

Yeah, that law would've really changed the whole Rodney King trial. Seems really excessive. Aren't there real crimes being committed somewhere?

Melissa Sugar said...

That law is scary, and nonsense. It is a clear infringement of civil liberties and leaves the way open to abuse.

I did watch the video clip to the end, though, and can't quite see what the fuss was about. At first I had no idea what was going on, then it looked like the cops were on an exercise or something. Nothing wrong with that. Through most of it, they had no interest whatsoever in the guy doing the recording - they clearly didn't send that whole squad out just to arrest one man. It wasn't until the final minute or so, when they were winding up what they were doing, and an officer noticed he was filming. The arrest sounded low-key and polite, no brutality.

He was seen committing an offense, he was arrested. No problem there. But, I agree, the law should not have put him "in the wrong" in the first place.

Melissa Sugar said...

Wow. This is very weird. I would have never thought there was a law about this...

Melissa Sugar said...

What a fascinating post. Life in these United States can get pretty wacky, but this is so wrong.

Melissa Sugar said...

I'm having a hard time keeping up this week. I've had really sick kids and little sleep. I have taken the approach of only really visiting new blogs during this month. That's kind of sucky to my followers, but it's the point of this challenge to meet new people. I may have to rebuild some relationships next month, but it's the approach I'm sticking with so I don't feel too overwhelmed.

(Actually, I have visited some other blogs too in the middle of all of this, just because I can't help myself!)

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