New York Cop Arrests News Videographer On Baseless Charge

Bob Hubbard

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http://www.longislandpress.com/2011/07/30/suffolk-cops-arrest-tv-cameraman-at-crime-scene-video/
Cameraman Arrested by Suffolk County Police
From: stringertv | Jul 29, 2011 | 306 views
This was the end of a police chase and the Sgt. doesn't want video coverage from a credentialed member of the press. The photog asks how far to move back but the sgt. says no you can't shoot it at all. Notice the road is open to traffic, there are people without a camera that are standing there and even some kids walk straight through the scene. The photog moves a block away and shoots from the next street over and that's when he's arrested and charged with Obstruction of Governmental Administration....how can you obstruct from a block away.

Watch video.
Watch the 30 year veteran almost run the cameraman down with his car.

Ive been doing this for 30 years and theres nothing you can hold over my head, the sergeant tells the reporter.

Now, maybe I'm an idiot but, if this is an 'active investigation', shouldn't there be tape up, road blocks, etc? Why can cars drive right by, and people walk through the area, yet a cameraman gets hassled, detained, threatened and then arrested?
For doing his job?
For doing a -LEGAL- activity. (This is in plain site. In NY, plain site is fair game.)


I have a suggestion for this particular police department.
Invest in Romulan Cloaking Devices.

Law Enforcement needs to realize that -they- are under 24/7/365 surveillance by the public and stop their petty retaliatory actions.
You have dash cams, and head mounts, and traffic cams, and cams on poles.
We have cell phones with internet access.
You act like jerks, and it's going out.
You trump up charges, it still goes out.
You collect phones at gun point, it's still going out.

Maybe you need to reread the oaths you swore and realize that not every one of us is a criminal but that continued actions like this is why so many of the public now view you not as our friends, our protectors, our defenders, but our opponents, our enemies, and threats?

You have every right to deal with threats in your legally prescribed and professional ways.
Yes, not everyone with a camera likes you, and some of us are *** holes out to make you look bad.
You don't need to help the *** holes among us achieve their goals.
Some of us, still believe you are the good guys.
We however need your help to remind the rest of us of that.
Being caught on camera as thugs will not help you regain our trust and support.
There needs to be less of these videos posted on the internet.
Not because you censored us.
Because there was no ugly event to post at all.

It's up to you.
 
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Archangel M

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How about addressing this particular officer/PD instead of all the "you's" and "Law Enforcement has to's"?

I don't know what this Sgts issue was, I have come to expect a guy with a news camera to appear on scene. As long as he is not in the street or walking around my scene he's good to go as far as I'm concerned. Im "Law Enforcement" and one of those "you's" and while I cant answer for what some individual knucklehead on my PD may do, my PD doesn't condone that sort of behavior here.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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It's a generic "you". LEO's VS John Q Public. It's not directed at you personally. I can't recall any LEO's on MT that I have any issues with.

The 5% of asshats in uniform make life very dangerous for the 95% of good cops out there. They get all the press. It's wrong, but it is what happens. This slants public perception, and puts more tension into LEO-Public encounters than is needed or wanted by either. If I get pulled over for a minor traffic violation, will I get a good professional, or an *** hat? I don't need some jackass with an attitude threatening to kill me, or who dislocates my shoulder and breaks my neck 'detaining me' because I didn't 'respect his awthoritai!' fast enough. I'm concerned that I'll run into these idiots.

Cops get pissed when a civi says "You work for me".
Sorry, you do.
My tax money goes to my representative government, who pays you.
The government works for me, therefore as employees of said government you also work for me.
You took an oath to "protect and serve".
I as "Joe Public" do not expect you to kiss my *** or let me do as I please.
I do however expect that all of my employees (and public servants are my employees through my representatives) behave in a professional and courteous manner.
I expect you to take my reasonable concerns seriously.
Note, I said reasonable, which means I don't expect you to break off chasing OJ to get kitty out of the tree.
I shouldn't have to worry that I will be harmed by your actions IF I am not doing anything wrong.
Note actually not doing anything wrong, not being an ignorant jackass or dumb**** who actually is doing something wrong.
I expect you to take all legal reasonable precautions to ensure your own safety, your fellow officers safety, my own safety and the safety of the public.

In short, just as most of you are good cops, most of us are good people.
We need to trust each other again.

In this particular case, you have a legit reporter with press creds who is almost run over by a dick with a badge.

What was he trying to cover up? He was -very- insistent that no one film the stop.
The reporter was well away from the scene, 2 blocks at the end of it. I hardly think that is 'obstructing' or 'interfering'.
This '30 year vet' needs to be reminded of his oath, his duty and his responsibilities, and spend some quality time behind a desk before being allowed back out to 'serve the public.

The following was posted on Carlos Millers blog by a LEO.
http://www.pixiq.com/article/new-york-cop-arrests-news-videographer-on-baseless-charges
Johnny Law
12 hours ago
Wow, that sergeant is an idiot. I can understand getting someone out of the crime scene. I am all for that. However the guy just wanted to know where he could stand to film. Completely bad arrest and I hope the sergeant gets disciplined for it.
We had a shooting the other night in my area and the press showed up. I had crime scene tape set up and the video crews set up about 50 ft further back than that and started filming. There was a group of residents standing next to them (it was an apartment complex). Another more senior sgt came up and asked why I let the media get so close. My response was that they are outside the crime scene and I can't very well chase them away but let the apartment residents stand. He saw the logic in this and dropped the matter.
I've said it a dozen times but some people here never seem to listen. I have no problem being videotaped and I hate it when some officers get so defensive about cameras. As long as you don't interfer with my scene, record away.
This officer was 100% in the wrong in my opinion.
Oh and Jay's comment about the police oath is complete nonsense. Unusual that he would be wrong about that since he is so smart. Go figure.
 

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The "you work for me thing". I work for the public not any particular individual, I have a responsibility and "work for" a visitor of another state or country passing through my jurisdiction regardless of if they "pay my salary".

Not to be snide, but technically, residents "pay" for cops through their property taxes where I live. So unless you own a home in MY town you don't pay for MY services. County/State taxes may pay for your Sheriffs or Troopers but not for the local cop one town over.

I know what the spirit of your statement is about and I agree with it, but when people start claiming "my taxes pay for you" you better be accurate with the claim.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I'm part of the tax paying public. I pay federal taxes, and I'm certain that there isn't a single multi-cop PD in the US that doesn't somehow get some Federal funding somewhere in the money chain. :D

And if that isn't true, then when I pass through your town, I'm buying you a cup of coffee. Or tea.
Just because :)
 

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The only Fed money we get is applied to grants which are typically done on OT (and is less and less every year). There are some depts. who have had Fed funding to pay for additional officers, but that money runs out then it's on the jurisdictions back to pay for them or to loose a position via attrition. My "salary" is paid for by homeowners. So if Im working OT I guess you may be paying my salary for those 4-8 hours. Of course when divided up, I could just give you back your .50 cents and call it even.

I bite my tongue whenever I have a "renter" on public assistance who tells me that he "pays my salary". While I do "work for them", they are NOT my employer. The Town is my employer.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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You think I pay that much in taxes? :rofl:
 

RandomPhantom700

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A few questions/thoughts after viewing the video:

1. The cop drove up pretty aggressively, clearly to try and intimidate the guy, but saying that he almost ran the cameraman down is a bit much.
2. The sound seemed to spike up at certain points during the confrontation. Part of me wondered if the cameraman was attempting to hide certain comments by the officer, but then again it could just be the nature of raw footage.
3. I find myself wondering a few things about who the cameraman was. He's a journalist of some type, but he seemed to go back and forth between acquiescing and coming back to the scene, which I think makes him look more suspicious than if he'd just stood his ground where he knew he could be. At one point he said he called someone (a supervisor? a boss?) to confirm his right to be there. It may just be me, but if one is planning on asserting oneself with the police, wouldn't it be reasonable to confirm that right beforehand?

All that said, yeah, that officer clearly made himself a member of the 5% "bully with a badge" group. None of the other officers at the scene seemed to give two fecal deposits about the cameraman being there. Not a good show for the Suffolk county PD.
 

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And this guy is a Sgt. you would think that he'd seen his share of news cameras.
 

CanuckMA

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RP,

Camera mikes are usually uni-directional towaeds the front of the camera, the sound muffles when the conversation takes place behind it.

Archangel,

You are right, it's not every LEO out there. However this seems to come up often enough to see a systemic issue. While only a minority of officers will behave in that manner, it behooves PDs everywhere to issue clear dirtectives to officers.
 

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IMO..just like how every time a child is abducted and murdered (exceedingly rare in terms of statistics) and makes national news and parents nationwide panic and don't let little Johnny bike around the block. Just because some video clips become popular on the internet isn't proof of a systemic problem.
 

CanuckMA

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IMO..just like how every time a child is abducted and murdered (exceedingly rare in terms of statistics) and makes national news and parents nationwide panic and don't let little Johnny bike around the block. Just because some video clips become popular on the internet isn't proof of a systemic problem.

It happens. It happens in a lot of different department. It's crap publicity for that department and LE in general. It's systemic insofar as it's in more than a few departments. At some point, the higher ups have got to clarify to their officers the dept's policy on dealing with photographers in public.
 

elder999

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Back in the 70's and early 80's, the Suffolk County cops were close to the highest paid ones in the country. They also had a reputation as the dirtiest, with a case of "interrogation" that involved wrapping asuspects head in telephone books and beating it with a baseball bat, and another where they-as in, more than one officer-beat up a kid they'd pulled over because he had a courtesy card from their department, that they asked about, and were told My brother's on the job, as well as the usual problems of graft and drug dealing.

Bottom line: cops are human, and not usually saints, and subject to making the same errors in judgement as the rest of us. Sometimes they commit outright crimes, just like the rest of us, though I bet they get away with it more. This event shouldn't be a surprise, and a lot of places are making just what the videographer did a crime-New York isn't one of them, yet, AFAIK......
 

Sukerkin

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IMO..just like how every time a child is abducted and murdered (exceedingly rare in terms of statistics) and makes national news and parents nationwide panic and don't let little Johnny bike around the block. Just because some video clips become popular on the internet isn't proof of a systemic problem.

Hmm - refusal to see the existence of a problem is a problem in itself.
 

Archangel M

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That cop (and possibly that dept) has a problem. Do we have a "problem" with child abduction? Granted every one is a horror and should be dealt with. Do some depts have an "issue"? Sure, but I don't buy that it's a nationwide problem. What do you base your image of the problem on Suk? What you see on the internet? What percentage of LEO's and depts do you think they represent?
 

Sukerkin

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That last is an interesting question, for which I have no answer at all. I'd guess something like 1% to 5%, a similar ratio to the ones that are very good at their jobs.

But I do think that it should be as low a number as possible, especially in a country where they allow power mad psycho's to have badges and guns ... oh wait, some of that may have been prejudicial :lol:.

More seriously but probably still unpalatable, one is too many, mate, when you are talking about people with authority over others who abandon the concomitant responsibility. I know you don't think so and feel that the fact that a person can have a bad day at the office covers many sins. That makes this a very short conversation for I flatly disagree when that persons job entails the use of deadly force if required.

Happily, my views don't really matter as I live in England and so don't really have the on-the-ground experience of American police that the majority of posters here do.
 

MJS

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Its pretty much a given, if theres a big incident happening, chances are, someone from the media, who listen to scanners, will be showing up. Usually if members of the press start showing up, theres a designated area for them to go to, ie: away from the investigation, but still within camera range. What confuses me, is, if this is such a top secret incident, like this sgt is making it out to be, why is the road still open, why isn't it blocked off?

As for his actions? Very unprofessional. For someone who's claiming 30yrs, he's acting like an ***. Personally, I dont give a rats behind how long you've been doing it for, time in doesnt make you untouchable. No, I'm not calling for this guy to be fired, but you'd think that he'd know how to address people, in a more professional manner.

Lets see...what sounds better:

1) Get outta here NOW! Put that camera down and GET OUT OF HERE!!! Otherwise you're going to be arrested!!!

2) Excuse me sir, but this is an active scene. If you could, could you please move back over there, so we can keep the scene secure? Thank you.

Hmm...Alex, I'll take #2 for $1000 please. :D
 

jks9199

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The only Fed money we get is applied to grants which are typically done on OT (and is less and less every year). There are some depts. who have had Fed funding to pay for additional officers, but that money runs out then it's on the jurisdictions back to pay for them or to loose a position via attrition. My "salary" is paid for by homeowners. So if Im working OT I guess you may be paying my salary for those 4-8 hours. Of course when divided up, I could just give you back your .50 cents and call it even.

I bite my tongue whenever I have a "renter" on public assistance who tells me that he "pays my salary". While I do "work for them", they are NOT my employer. The Town is my employer.

I agree. The distinction is important; I wrote at length on it previously. If any taxpayer or resident was my "employer", I'd have to do what they say. I don't. I'm employed by the city. The inclusion of the citizens in the command table is a political fiction and a statement of principal.

Bob, I know you're not anti-cop. But an over use of too general or inclusive phrasing (the generic "you cops") tars too many with too broad a brush. "All you photographers are out to stick your nose into stuff that ain't your business, and you don't care who gets hurt by the photo you take and sell." Of course that's not true -- it's only true of a handful of the paparazzi.

By the way -- generally, federal money is pretty restricted in how it can be used. Except for rare circumstances, it cannot generally be used to fund personnel. And those times generally prevent supplanting, or using fed money to pay for a position you wouldn't have otherwise.
 
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