This post comes to us from Jim Platt of Cheyenne Cop Watch. It’s good that Jim both had a video camera and used it. But why was it not-known that he had the right to film? Also, if police were approaching his house, does it make sense to exit the dwelling? Might that have put Jim at more risk? Why even open the door and engage? What do you think? I don’t ask these what-ifs to belittle Jim’s actions – I’m glad he’s out there documenting – but rather to use this admittedly not-too-serious exchange to encourage critical thinking. -Pete
On June 4, 2012 at about 6:00 AM three Cheyenne police cars parked in front of my house. Three officers got out of their cars so I started video recording from my porch. When the three walked around the corner out of my sight, I followed them keeping a safe distance back.
The officers surrounded a house as I recorded and one officer knocked on the front door. The officer at the front door saw me and told me to “move along” which I did not hear at the time, but you can hear on the recording. I stayed in place except when a car came towards me on the street then I moved to the sidewalk from my vantage point on the street.
A resident of the home came to the door, briefly spoke to the police and then closed the door. The officers walked towards me. As I walked away, they told me to stop and turn off the camera which I did. I asked if I could leave. They said I could not because I was interfering with a police investigation.
When they took my name and date of birth and called it in for a records search, I turned the video camera back on and did not turn it off until the supervisor arrived and confirmed two things: First, I have the right to video record this event. Secondly, I could have been arrested for refusing to obey a police command to leave. I asked if I was under arrest and if I could leave. The supervisor said I’m not under arrest and that I can leave. I left, turned off my camera and returned home.