Protecting Civilian Oversight Of The Police
Leonard Pitts Jr. argues that we must protect the right to film police activity in his new column, “Give Thanks To Citizens With Cameras:”
This is not, as the officer who arrested Good piously claimed for the benefit of her video and any court that might later review it, about police safety. It is, rather, about the right of civilian oversight. Police after all, are prone to the same instinct to close ranks and cover nether regions as anyone else. Except, they have guns and powers of arrest.
That should give us pause, especially in light of the blatant mendacity of the UC Davis cops. It should stand as a cautionary tale to those folks who are willing to accord police all benefit of every doubt. One also hopes those states or towns that have enacted or are contemplating statutes to prohibit people from videotaping on-duty police will now rethink that awful idea.
If you are not interfering with police or otherwise breaking a law, what legal or moral pretext do they have to stop you from filming them? Indeed, those who are doing their work honorably – in other words, the majority – should welcome that, as it protects them from spurious claims of brutality, just as it protects citizens when the brutality is real.