Friday, July 22, 2011

Smile, you're on candid camera.

I'm sure everybody's seen the video of the cop in Canton, Ohio acting like a complete tool during an interaction with a CCW permit holder, right?

Matt G was unimpressed (to put it mildly.) LawDog is less than amused hisownself, and by "less than amused", I mean "disgusted".

Bobbi had an idea for an educational campaign that will resonate with anybody who ever spent five minutes in a pediatrician's waiting room.

Dave Hardy waxes lawyerly.

Personally, I think that any cop that plans on still doing the job in five or ten years should get used to the idea that his or her every action, from roll call to end of shift, is being recorded. At the rate technology is going, I'd bet that wearable wireless remote-recording cameras will be a fact of life in law enforcement sooner than we think. Do your job like your grandmother was watching.


Boat Guy said...

Given that street cops are now advised to wear cameras, it may soon become a question of whose camera wins...
voice recorders have been part of the OC movement for some time now; my first thought on seeing the camera option was "An idea whose time has come"

Tam said...

Boat Guy,

I meant that the cops will be wearing dept.-issued cameras.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Local Perspective Time: One of the local Suburban PD's just outside Cleveland is making their officers wear the Body Cams. Surprisingly, feedback from the Police Union is that they are Opposed to it, precisely because of guys like Canton, Ohio's Finest. Seems they don't want the Bad Cops to lose their jobs over Incidents like this one. Might not gather enough dues, I guess. But once the Police realize that what is being recorded actually helps them against the Perps and their Shyster Lawyers yelling "Police Brutality! I's Gonna Sue!", and the Vid hits the Court Room, they like it.

As to this incident: In Canton, Ohio, before the days of the Dash Cam, Skinny Dude would have been Shot while Resisting Arrest. Trust me, I used to work in that neighborhood at night, and the Canton, Ohio PD is NOT the Most Professional unit around.

perlhaqr said...

Do your job like your grandmother was watching.

Knowing the law would help, too.

Tam said...


"Knowing the law would help, too."

Let's not talk crazy talk, now.

perlhaqr said...

But, if I may get my nerd on for a moment, you're right about the "sealed camera transmitting to an off-site location" (from the Snowflake thread). We're there. The tech is live and waiting to be rolled into the right package and deployed.

The 4G phone system supports enough bandwidth to transmit HD audiovisual signal. 1080p cameras are small enough to fit inside something wearable as a bluetooth headset. When there are enough 4G cell towers, this trick will be trivial.

I admit, i was thinking about this issue from the POV of wanting to record cops, not be recorded by them, but whichever way it goes... I suspect you could see this sort of thing available for sub-$500 within a year.

AnObserver said...

Here's THE cop that get it:

greg said...

Wow...that's the first time I have actually watched that video..I'm pretty blown away.

I'm usually one of the first to point out that I don't believe I have the temperament to do certain jobs...and being a police officer is is one of them.

In this case though, this officer's behavior seemed inappropriate from the moment everything started, let alone how he dealt with the driver.

Police Officer's are public employee's...I would no more expect to be called 'hoss' by a police officer than by someone working at the library or in the City Hall Zoning office.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Sadly, while I would fully support their mandatory use, I have little confidence in even body cameras being very useful. I've seen too many cases where the dash cam "wasn't working" or where everything rather conveniently took place outside the field of view for me to have any confidence that the bad cops won't find some "innocent" or "accidental" way to interfere with them.

One thing I would like to see is a federal* law preventing any state or locality from prohibiting the recording of any police officer while he is acting in his official capacity. That would help prevent the "missing" official recording from necessarily being the only recording.

Honestly, and especially since I started CCW, I have seriously considered setting up a hidden camera in my car that could be surreptitiously activated if I get pulled over for anything, just in case. They're getting so small and cheap now that it wouldn't be very difficult at all.

* Which Congress does have the power to do under the combination of the 1st and 14th Amendments.

Firehand said...

I've wondered about the problem Jake mentions: case gets to judge, PD says "Due to unfortunate circumstance, etc.", get a court order for all records of such 'problems' with cameras/recorders AND all records of complaints against officers and cross-reference them. If you could show a pattern of 'unfortunate problems' coinciding with complaints against an officer or false arrest, I'd think you could make one hell of a court case against that department.

Jon said...

As I'm visiting our great Nanny State Grandmother to the East (UK) right now, based on their version of Cops (called, I'm not kidding, Coppers) the UK has cams on some of their officers shoulders at the time of me writing this.

Which I find vaguely hilarious given how many *other* cameras are watching you in this country at any given time....

Odysseus said...

Good cops will likely welcome the cameras(honest people anyway), thugs with a badge will kick, scream, and fight them every step of the way.

Woodman said...

Good cops will be annoyed by the fact that will have no privacy from upper management. Want to talk crap about the night shift super? Better not do it at work, or while talking to anyone who is. Want in on the NCAA tourney bracket pool? Oops, wearing my cam, sorry, have to bust you now. Sleeping with Joe's wife? Better not talk to her while on duty.

Like wearing pink underwear? Like singing Lady Gaga songs? Sorry, not anymore.

How does anyone expect someone to live 1/3rd of their life filming and recording everything. And if you can just turn it on and off when you want then you defeat the purpose.

God, Gals, Guns, Grub said...

...and they might as well fire this officer because any arrest he makes in the future that goes to court... the officer's testimony will be worthless as soon as defense counsel shows this video...

Dann in Ohio

Montie said...

I first saw this video over at LawDog's place, but didn't have time to comment after viewing it. I'm sure you know my opinion in advance on this, but here goes anyway.

I have seen this many times in my 25 year career. I have endured dealing with and backing officers who had attitudes like that displayed by Officer Harless and was always VERY uncomfortable with them and usually did my best to chill them out when backing them. I haven't seen it so much since I have been in a position to take action against such stupidity (one doesn't want to act crazy in front of one's supervisor). Odysseus called them "thugs with badges", while I myself have always referred to them as "criminals with badges". There was so much wrong procedurally and safety-wise with this stop, I don't even know where to begin.

I don't know the story behind Officer Harless' attitude, but I will say that I have seen cops who worked the "bad" side of town, particularly on night shift develop attitudes over a period of time spent dealing with truly bad and dangerous people on a nightly basis. Pulling them to day shift in a little calmer area, after a little chat about their attitude would turn the salvageable ones around, the others don't need to be in police work.

Officer Harless was so over the top with his conduct, and did things in such a sloppy and dangerous way (as did his partner) that I'm not sure he is salvageable, and should probably get out of police work.

I would also add that nothing gets me fired up more quickly than officers who are abusive to people who are carrying legally with a permit. To pass the background for the permit should inform the cop up front that they are dealing with one of the good guys.

Boat Guy said...

gotcha, sorry if my response didn't make that clear. I actually came across a piece on cops wearing department-issued cameras in the course of my work earlier this week or last.
Just sayin "Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander." Since my dogs just ate my voice recorder, I think I'll get one of those cameras instead of a replacement.

Montie said...

One further comment on the video angle with regard to cops. Our cars are equipped with video and the officers wear body mics that will usually pick up sound for a fairly good radius.

The cameras are activated anytime the emergency equipment is on, or they can be turned on from the body mic. they record to a memory card that only supervisors can access and download.

I am always suspect of an officer who doesn't like cameras recording his/her actions, but am proud to say that all of my officers will not drive a car with a camera that is down, preferring to be on camera for their interactions with citizens in such situations as presented in the Canton PD video.

And yes, Woodsman is right, the lack of ANY privacy is annoying to good cops which is why we have them set up like they are right now. (There is a camera and mic in the car also. Primarily for times when a prisoner is in the cage or being transported, but it is only on when activated)

Montie said...

Boat Guy,

The Airport Police here just started issuing body camera/mics that officers wear on their uniforms, and many of my officers having seen them are looking at purchasing them on their own. I would prefer to have the Dept. do it, so I has access to the recordings though.

Odysseus said...


I empathize with the lack of privacy but this is a case of people who have a near monopoly on legal force. I don't have a right to not have my employer snoop on me during work hours, should someone who can lock me in a holding cell overnight with god knows who?

Ed Rasimus said...

Stunning that neither of the two cops recognize their own blundering in the stop. How the original officer fixated on the backseat pax even to the point of getting him out of the car and then doing the rear seat search without ever addressing the driver is beyond comprehension.

He gripes about "this is how good cops get shot" and he must be referring to his own incompetence. A good cop never would have been to that position in the first place.

NotClauswitz said...

Izzat you Grandma? *!SMACK!* Yeh - it's you. Fine as long as it's not my psychotic grandmother who spent time in Agnews State Mental facility... Not all Grammas are grandmotherly, but they're somebody's grandma... :-)

Stuart the Viking said...

Monte: "...that I'm not sure he is salvageable, and should probably get out of police work."

My understanding is that in most places a DEATH THREAT is illegal. A quick search says second degree felony here in Florida. I wasn't able to find what it is in Ohio but I suspect it's simular. I don't think that qualified immunity should cover since it should be WELL KNOWN that threatening to kill someone is illegal and doing so was in no way in furtherance of his dutys. So, with all due respect, I think this is WAY past wondering if this guy is salvageable or not. He needs to be charged with the very serious crime that he committed. Anything else is a betrayal of the people that he and all other LEO's were hired to protect.


Mad Saint Jack said...

I wonder if officer #2 needs a look for not pulling officer #1 back from the edge?

The video was posted at Hot Air which is interesting to me because it is not really a political story, and not really a national story.
I'm interested because I think Ed Morrissey is becoming a gun nut.

Matt said...

Apparently this isn't the first time this cop went over the edge according to the Canton Repository

"Canton’s internal affairs unit has investigated 16 complaints involving Harless dating back to 2000.

He was reprimanded in one 2003 case. Harless and another officer were exonerated of using excessive force, but were given a letter of reprimand for not activating the in-car video camera at the scene per department policy."

Now I know that not every complaint against an officer is justified and may in fact be an outright lie but after seeing how this officer reacted in this situation I'd say its well past time that he was fired.

Woodman said...

Montie, I hadn't known about the emergency equipment camera link.

That hits my concerns pretty well.

If they could put a contact switch on the equipment belts for the taser/billy/firearm that would pretty much cover 90% of the issues that could come up. If a weapon is pulled then the equipment fires up.

Mark Roote said...

@ Woodman:
First - I don't care if 'good cops' are annoyed by being recorded at work. My employer has the right to monitor my every activity while I'm at work, and I don't have the ability to arrest and/or kill people at my job, especially not to get away with it. You may be annoyed at being recorded, but I'm annoyed when I'm treated like a criminal for exercising my god-given rights.
Second - a) If you want to talk crap about the super, do it to someone who can do something about it. If the super deserves the things you want to say about him/her, then maybe they shouldn't be the super anymore? b) If you want in on the NCAA tourney, work to repeal the laws against gambling, you're a citizen too, aren't you? c) If you're sleeping with someone elses wife, how can you be a good cop? That's a matter of ethics. If you aren't principled enough to value someone elses marriage, how can you possibly be principled enough to value anything? (Unless, of course, you, your wife, joe and his wife all have that kind of understanding and open relationship, in which case why are you concerned about getting caught doing it?) d) what the hell do pink underwear and lady gaga have to do with anything? that's no ones business even if you are caught doing it. If you're concerned about people picking on you about it then you obviously have no self confidence. That's not my problem, and if you get fired for either of those things you have a very strong wrongful termination suit.
Third - If you don't want your every on-duty action recorded, find another career. You were hired to work for the citizens, not the other way around. If you don't want to be held responsible for your actions, get another job.

Again, I DON'T CARE how 'annoyed' you might be at being recorded. I don't have an interaction with the police without creating my own recording because I DON'T TRUST YOU.
Prove that I can and maybe we'll relax the restrictions.

Woodman said...

Mark, whoa, hold back there.

Devil's advocate writing up there. I am not an LEO nor have I ever been. I don't have a dog in this race.

If you give people power it will be abused, and maybe someone doesn't want people to know certain things about them. And if it's recorded it will get out eventually if it's funny (or degrading) enough. And while I may be OK with my friends knowing I wear my wife's underwear that may not help my future career in politics.

All of the issues I mentioned in my initial post have nothing to do with being able to do their job, or how they treat civilians. Recording everything someone does puts them under a microscope. And why should anyone waste time recording an officer taking a dump? Or buying a coffee? Or sitting in a speed trap for half an hour?

Hey, look, here's 20 minutes of Joe picking his nose!! And wow, as soon as the local snitches learned everyone is recording all the time everyone clammed up!

Tam said...


I'm not arguing the rightness or wrongness of it, I'm merely saying that liability-consciousness makes it practically inevitable.

GuardDuck said...

After the Rodney King video, our trainers were telling us that the future was here and we needed to act like there was a camera on us at all times.

Guess some people didn't get that memo.

Anonymous said...

This dickhead (I refuse to sully myself or my profession by calling him a police officer) has 16 incidents going back 11 years.
The nazi haircut, the 'roid physique and the black gloves-someone in management is asleep at the switch and has been for a while.

Mark Roote said...

Woodman, whether you are an LEO or not is really irrelevant, my opinion on recording them is the same.
As for putting them under a microscope... good! We haven't been paying attention to them so they got out of hand, it's time to reign in our employees.
As for 'wasting the time' recording them, that's really a non-issue. And just because you record it, it doesn't mean you have to watch it all.
A digital recording takes practically no space. Record everything with a date/time stamp (both in the viewable file as well as the file properties). At the end of the shift it gets loaded onto the server. The file can be set to automatically delete itself after a time frame (30 days? 60 days? a year?) and if someone files a complaint the file can be pulled and reviewed for pertinent info and retained as long as it is required.
To the point of the snitches shutting down - there are anonymous ways to contact the police. IF I were a snitch, I would do that anyway rather than have anyone that could actually identify me, cop or not.

John A said...

AnObserver - yes, that is the way things should go: guy has a gun [open carry], be careful and do not escalate unnecessarily.

Which of course is how things mostly DO go, which in turn makes it boring and not worth posting. But I am grateful that "Jeremy" felt differently. And that he did not ramp up the situation either.

Amazing that this was in a coast of California location!

staghounds said...

1. In every police academy I have taught since about 1998, I've beaten this same drum. It IS coming, and you are stupid if you allow a situation to develop where its your word against some criminal's what happened, or even worse, your word against some criminal's edited recording.

2. Being recorded is a GREAT motivational and training tool.

3. Recordigs mean convictions. I have never, not once, had to try a case where the crime was recorded. I ave never, not once. had to try a DUI where the 20 minute ride to jail was recorded. (Not the tests- juries don't understand field sobriety tasks. But 20 minutes of a drunk makes jurors want them off the road, and defendant know it.)

4. Mark Roote is absolutely right. If you are doing something at work that you don't want the boss to see, then you had better knock it off or face the consequences.

The citizens are our boss.

Tam said...

I want a hundred thousand more staghounds and Matt G's and LawDogs.

The biggest problem at the level of the individual institutions is that the unpunished bad drives out the good.

If a hypothetical Matt, for example, worked at a department that employed an officer like the guy in the video, and he went to his superiors and said, "Hey, this guy is off the rails. We need to kick him to the curb." and they didn't, then our hypothetical Matt would, after exhausting his procedural avenues, move on to another department.

Fiftycal said...

Austin is issuing wearable cameras to it's bicycle cops. THey are testing several models that supposedly can't be tampered with. Oh, and they are paying about $5,000 apiece for them.

Brian Dunbar said...

Here's THE cop that get it:


He's also a retired Marine.

I am sure the two are completely unrelated.

The nazi haircut, the 'roid physique and the black gloves-someone in management is asleep at the switch and has been for a while.

It's funny how when we had race problems or discipline problems or theft problems in the Marines, the root cause was always the same: poor leadership.

Seems the same thing is going on here.

Funny how that works.

Tam said...


Didn't check the third link in my post, eh?

Michael said...

You mean the 4th link in Roberta's post?

Montie said...


Hypotheticals notwithstanding, your premise has the ring of truth such that it has caused me to change departments twice in my career.

Montie said...


You are 100% correct when his complaint file is added into the equation. Canton is just asking for a "wrongful retention" lawsuit by not cutting this guy loose and as many have posited here, IA should probably be looking at charges.

Tam said...


Well, that would be what we're referring to, yes?

Tucanae Services said...

"Do your job like your grandmother was watching."

That's good advise whether you are a cop or not.

Anonymous said...


Congrats, Tam.

mariner said...

We've been told for years that we have no privacy and we should just get over it.

So why should cops have privacy as they abuse other citizens?

Ian Argent said...

"Officer testimony not backed up by recorder evidence not being acceptable in court" should take care of officers not engaging recording gear in interactions with others.

As for the "recorded for 1/3 of lives" - aren't most cops being recorded in the cars anyway?