Why Legally Recording the Police is Needed

Several states have laws that make it illegal for us lowly peasants to video tape police officers while they’re on duty. These laws have been a problem since day one because it takes away one of the few weapons we mere serfs have to defend ourselves against police abuse. A great example that demonstrates the need for allowing the recording of police officers is the following:

On a mild February afternoon, Fiorino, 25, decided to walk to an AutoZone on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philly with the .40-caliber Glock he legally owns holstered in plain view on his left hip. His stroll ended when someone called out from behind: “Yo, Junior, what are you doing?”

Fiorino wheeled and saw Sgt. Michael Dougherty aiming a handgun at him.

What happened next would be hard to believe, except that Fiorino audio-recorded all of it: a tense, profanity-laced, 40-minute encounter with cops who told him that what he was doing – openly carrying a gun on the city’s streets – was against the law.

The police officer was not only ignorant of the law but also threatened to murder Fiorino:

Get down on your knees. Just obey what I’m saying,” Dougherty said.

“Sir,” Fiorino replied, “I’m more than happy to stand here -”

“If you make a move, I’m going to fucking shoot you,” Dougherty snapped. “I’m telling you right now, you make a move, and you’re going down!”

Had Fiorino not recorded this entire encounter it would have been a situation of his word against the cops. As the government controls both the courts and police it’s not hard to figure out that the courts are generally going to side with the police in any he said she said arguments. This becomes even more important when those tasked with enforcing the law don’t actually know the law themselves.