On the Recording of the Police

Gizmodo put together an amazing piece this week on the rules around video recording police officers. Everything. State laws, judicial decisions, disarming body position, tech tools, you name it. Love it.

I love it for two reasons: one, as a citizen who supports the public’s right to document and publish freely (hey, that might be me one day); two, as a PIO seeing the play book for how citizen-journalists will behave this summer (I seem to be on an Occupy kick this week). G.I. Joe said it best, “Knowing is half the battle.”
Here are the seven rules:

  • Know the law (wherever you are)
  • Don’t secretly record police
  • Respond to “shit cops say”
  • Don’t share your video with police
  • Prepare to be arrested
  • Master your technology
  • Don’t point your camera like a gun

Earlier this month, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of hearing Toronto PD Deputy Chief Peter Sloly (and on Twitter) recount the Department’s experience with social media during the G-20 Summit. Everything that he said was spot on, but I was very intrigued by the story of one “Officer Bubbles,” who became internet-infamous over some bubbles during the protests.

I was moved by the Chief’s worry that other officers might have to go through something similar, alone. He implored public safety agencies to consider ways to protect their officers from, for lack of a better word, internet-infamy. This article is just one more clue that recordings of police will continue, and because of the lack of context in those videos, even folks doing their jobs correctly can find themselves on the wrong side of viral pop culture. All of us, as PIOs, need to realize that one day, it will be our employees in front of those cameras, not just the police. Learning to prep now is simply the prudent thing to do.

UPDATE: Yeah, that just got easier thanks to a new Livestream hardware product with unlimited HD streaming for $45 per month.