A while ago, I wrote about a Nashua, New Hampshire family that was having some troubles with the local police. The authorities came to the Gagnon home when they suspected the son for some shenanigans. The inquiry got unpleasant, and Mr. Gagnon believed he had been mistreated, and went to the police station to lodge a complaint. He brought along a videotape of the entire encounter — he had his entranceway wired, with appropriate sign.
Instead of having his complaint aired, however, he was arrested for taping the officers without their consent.
This had a lot of people — myself included — a bit irate at the police. I personally believe that taping a police officer while they are performing their duties (with a few rare exceptions) should not only be legal, but encouraged. And the notion that a man could put up video cameras in his own home, along with warning signs, have a discussion with the police during which he points out the camera’s presence, and STILL get arrested, rankles me.
Well, it took a little over a month, but justice and sanity prevailed. Not only have the charges against Mr. Gagnon been dropped, but the detective in question has been disciplined.
The police are, in the end, public servants. They are taking our money to act in our name, on our behalf. And unless there is a compelling reason (such as the officer is undercover), the police should never have any qualms about being on camera. Hell, they already videotape nearly everything they do now, between internal cameras in their stations and dashboard cameras in their cruisers. It’s only fair if citizens should start taping their encounters, too.