Police Claim That Allowing People To Film Them In Public Creates 'Chilling Effects'

From Tech Dirt.

There isn’t a ton of new information in this NPR piece on how police still can’t stand the fact that people record them with cameras and cameraphones, but it’s one of the first articles on the subject that has actually laid out an argument for why police think it’s bad that people out in public can film them:

“They need to move quickly, in split seconds, without giving a lot of thought to what the adverse consequences for them might be,” says Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“We feel that anything that’s going to have a chilling effect on an officer moving — an apprehension that he’s being videotaped and may be made to look bad — could cost him or some citizen their life,” Pasco says, “or some serious bodily harm.”

Frankly, this makes absolutely no sense. Why would a police officer think twice about doing his or her job if there are legitimate reasons to do what’s being done? The only time I could see a “chilling effect” on the actions of officers, is if what they’re doing is not legal.

Meanwhile, the article does show the real chilling effect of officers intimidating people who are filming them. The article tells the story of a teenager who tried filming police in Newark, New Jersey last year, and for her troubles, was handcuffed, put in the back of a squad car, and had the videos deleted off the phone. She was released two hours later and no charges were filed (though, she’s now suing the Newark Police Department). Still, when asked, the woman, Khaliah Fitchette, says that she probably wouldn’t film police in Newark again:

Khaliah Fitchette’s lawyers in New Jersey say her detention was illegal. But Fitchette still says she’d think twice before filming police in Newark again.

“It would have to be important enough to get myself in trouble for, I guess,” she says.

She has this attitude, Fitchette says, because she thinks she could get in trouble again, even though her detention was allegedly unlawful.

Now that is a chilling effect.

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4 replies »

  1. Sorry Mr. police officer man, next time 10 of you decide to throw me to the ground and beat me with a baton, I’ll be sure to make everything less “chilling.”

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