Sep 20, 2010

Recording Police and Security Guards

As stated earlier in this blog, I do not discuss my political views in my Cartooning and Drawing classes; that would be very inappropriate. However, I feel it is crucial for artists to know their rights, to know how to protect them and stand up for them, or else others will dictate what those rights are. Click HERE for an explanation of the Protecting Freedom category in this blog.

The website Reason Magazine has an article about recording encounters with police and security guards, an issue that is heating up with several states pressing charges against civilians who record their encounters with the police. If you are taking pictures, or even sketching a building, there is a growing chance that you will be questioned or even hassled by either police or security guards. With recording devices becoming more common, some (I say some, not all) authorities are chafing at the accountability they face when confronted with video evidence of excessive behavior. Courts are less willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt, especially when confronted by video. As a photographer myself, this is an issue that I am following very closely.

But what is the best way to videotape your encounters, and is it ethical? The same devices that can be used to provide accountability over our government can also be used for less noble purposes. Reason Magazine's article How to Record the Police examines the technology to record encounters with authority. It's worth a read.

Also worth reading is the website from the non-profit group Flex Your Rights, which educates the public about their rights when dealing with law enforcement.

It bears repeating: the rights you have, you have because people fought for them. Do not take them for granted.

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