The Perils of Filming Police

“It’s actually legal to film the police but you might not know that since people are arrested for doing that all the time.”

So begins The Perils of Filming the Police a 7-min podcast on the subject recently posted by On The Media.

The podcasts’s description:

It is not illegal to film police, but there have been several instances of citizens being arrested because the police didn’t want to appear on camera. Bob talks to Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, who has been doing workshops with police around the country about the right to film police in the line of duty.

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Overall the episode communicated some great information, such as noting that police employees should welcome filming as it creates an objective record, but as with most news sources, the podcast was not without latent bias:

  • Host Bob Garfiled and guest Mickey Osterreicher framed interactions between humans through a lens that categorizes them as either an “officer” or “civilian.” Such a distinctions denotes that differences exist, which only perpetuates a flawed reality that allows for the institutionalized violence and rights-violations that today exists from one perceived group toward another group. Here at Cop Block we know that badges don’t grant extra rights.
  • By conflating the actions of some individuals to an entire geographical area – such as “Baltimore” doing this or that – it only reinforces the bad idea that certain people, based on their place of employment, can speak for others and it very literally shapes the conversation and absolves actors of personal responsibility. After all, it’s not “Baltimore PD” that beats, maces or kills someone, but an individual, who is responsible for their actions. Language is important.
  • The most realistic alternative to accomplish the stated goals was completely overlooked. Though the “culture of policing” was rightly singled-out as being flawed, both the host and guest readily admit that transgressions of rights continue to occur. Despite legislation and other policy re-writes the double-standards still occur. And they occur since a distinction for those wearing badges is believed to exist.. Garfield and Osterreicher fail to take their views to their logical conclusion and advocate that policing, like any other good or service, could be better provided through consensual interactions.

Pete Eyre

Pete Eyre is co-founder of CopBlock.org. As an advocate of peaceful, consensual interactions, he seeks to inject a message of complete liberty and self-government into the conversation of police accountability. Eyre went to undergrad and grad school for law enforcement, then spent time in DC as an intern at the Cato Institute, a Koch Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, Directer of Campus Outreach at the Institute for Humane Studies, Crasher-in-Chief at Bureaucrash, and as a contractor for the Future of Freedom Foundation. In 2009 he left the belly of the beast and hit the road with Motorhome Diaries and later co-founded Liberty On Tour. He spent time in New Hampshire home, and was involved with Free Keene, the Free State Project and The Daily Decrypt.