By Davy V.
Since the mid-1980’s, when I used to tag along with my dad, a community activist against police misconduct and corruption in Rochester, NY, I have attended and organized hundreds of rallies, protests, and demonstrations.
NOT ONCE, have I ever seen a police Chief show up to a demonstration.
Case in point… Brighton, NY Police Chief Mark Henderson.
On Saturday, July 27, 2013, Henderson was one of several Brighton Police officials keeping a close watch on the national group Save America’s anti-abortion protest held in Brighton’s “12 Corners” intersection.
Remaining about 50 feet back from the crowd of demonstrators who were holding huge signs depicting images of aborted, mutilated babies, Chief Henderson looked more like a golfer, dressed down in a blue polo button pullover shirt, and sporting a pair of sunglasses, as he talked with his Lieutenant Dave Cataldi, and another unidentified BPD official.
As you can see in the third video below, Henderson, who has been Chief since 2010, was not too happy when I asked him on camera with what purpose was his department video recording the demonstration.
In fact, Henderson seemed determined to avoid my question.
Now let me set one thing clear right now.
Those who know me, and my work, know that I am an advocate of the right to record, protected under the first amendment, and certainly that right goes both ways.
If me or you have that right, then certainly, so does a police officer.
However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a right to ask questions, whenever I see a law enforcement officer acting under the color of law, recording citizens.
And, as the video below shows, I will not hesitate to ask away.
Call it the inquisitive side of me, or call it what it really is, the fact that I find it a bit ironic, and hypocritical, that throughout the U.S., police agencies, and their officers are at war with citizens who exercise their first amendment right to photograph and video record them.
We have all seen police officers abuse, assault, and arrest innocent citizens, and violate their rights, and the U.S. Constitution, simply because a citizen was pointing a camera at them.
Yet, police don’t have a problem video recording me or you.
So, when I saw at least one Brighton Police officer holding a small video camera, recording, I just couldn’t resist.
“I was wondering if you could tell me, with what purpose were your Brighton police officers standing on the corner video recording the event?”, I ask.
“We’re good.”, replies Chief Henderson.
Watch the video to see just how unprofessional Chief Henderson is.
After speaking to “Jerry”, a communications dispatch supervisor, he told me that he did not show Chief Henderson logged on as being on duty.
A short time later, Brighton Police Lt. Dave Cataldi, who is seen in the video below standing next to Chief Henderson, called me back and informed me that it’s not unusual for a Chief to not be logged on.
Cataldi did confirm that Chief Henderson was on duty when he was at the anti-abortion protest, but Cataldi stopped short of saying if the Chief had come in specifically for the protest.
Lt. Cataldi also told me that he feels Chief Henderson was taken back by my video recording him in the manner I did.
I told Lt. Cataldi that we would agree to disagree.
Chief, despite your Lieutenant’s attempt at defending your actions, your unprofessional, arrogant, and cocky behavior, especially your “we’re good” response, and your overall demeanor, is not only unbecoming of someone of your rank, but it’s exactly the sort of behavior which furthers to tarnish the law enforcement profession.
And Chief, next time, when a citizen is asking you a question, take off the sunglasses, it’s how I do business.
NOTE: Brighton, NY Police Chief Mark Henderson’s unprofessionalism is not indicative of the overall professional behavior of many of the department’s officers.
In fact, I have gone out of my way to praise Brighton, NY Police officers such as Sergeant Mike DiSain, officers Jeffrey Hoffman, Keith Woodard, Ryan Lehigh, Mike Romach, and Lisa Hillier, who have always treated me with the utmost respect, and professionalism.
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