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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The fact that this is newsworthy is a good thing.

Do you have a cell phone with a camera in it? I do, and I was about the last guy to get a cell phone. My phone was $50, and was one of the "feature phones" at the AT&T store, which means that it's cheap.

But it's got some features, not the least of which is a video camera. I actually use it a lot. I video'd my daughter's karate tournament. I video'd a cottonmouth water moccasin that I caught, before dispatching it. It's easy, takes one hand to use, and I only push two buttons to make it happen. In short, I can be video taping recording something with about 2 seconds' notice. And I'm a blundering technophobe.

Just about everyone has one of these things, these days. My wife has one, my daughter has one, my mother, my father, and my stepmother have one. And if you're under 30, live in the United States, possess a camera that is in any way capable of recording video, then you know how to utilize that feature. It's a given.

So you can bet that really interesting things that happen around college students in this nation get video recorded. How could they not be? By definition, an American college student has the equipment, the knowledge, and probably the opportunity. So it is that we get YouTube videos of drunken youngsters doing things that their mothers would not approve of.

Now, let me ask you-- if your buddy was getting an unfair beat-down by the police, wouldn't you want to document that? And if you're a youngster with a camera phone, it's dollars to donuts that you'll whip it out, begin recording, and then send it to your friends in a fit of outrage.

Or, if you're a bright boy like one Dimitri Masouris, you'll sell it to the first high bidder you can find, like the attorney representing his beaten buddy, Mr. Phuong Ho. (Stop and think about that. Masouris took the tools he had, and turned them into something valuable and fungible, with his own hands and his savvy. Free enterprise at work. Gawd Bless America.) The video has been released to the media, and shown to the San Jose Police Department, who employ a couple of cops who got a bit frisky whilst arresting Mr. Ho for brandishing a steak knife. Reportedly, the video shows that at least one SJPD officer beat the unarmed Mr. Ho with a baton, even after he was handcuffed. Not good!

It's bad, and I'll expect to read about charges on the officer, if the video actually shows what is said to have happened. And that, friends, is GOOD. I want the idjits who beat up handcuffed prisoners to leave my profession. I want them charged, and convicted. I don't want it swept under the rug, with people muttering "cover-up." Good solid video gets convictions, and that's a good thing.

Here's the thing, though-- if this were common, we'd see a LOT more of it. There would be reality TV shows with nothing but footage of bad cops beating down helpless citizens, illegally. Because remember-- camera phones are everywhere. And most police cars have video cameras. And that weird guy on the corner always keeps an 8mm video camera handy. And there's surveillance cameras on every other corner. And... and....

Why don't we see more of this? Because frankly, it just doesn't happen much. And that, my friends, is a damned Good Thing.

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13 Comments:

At Sunday, October 25, 2009 7:54:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I saw the video, link provided, and you see nothing. Everything is obscured by shadows. You do hear the audio but that does not indicated anything excessive.

I live in San Jose and this is the first that I heard time that I heard about the incident. Granted, I don't read the local news much but something like this would have jumped out.

Mike

http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_13631841?nclick_check=1

 
At Sunday, October 25, 2009 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Kristopher said...

It will help weed out the stupid/evil badge chasers.

Won't weed out the smart/evil ones ... but very little can trip those ones up ... other than other cops.

 
At Sunday, October 25, 2009 3:22:00 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

Very good point. If these guys did in fact hit him while handcuffed, without justification, them charge them. But the fact this isn't on the news 24/7 shows how a majority of us are doing things right. Where's that article at???

 
At Sunday, October 25, 2009 5:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,
Just a bit of info: Dimitri has not SOLD any tapes to anyone. He has NOT received a penny. I cannot go into more details but please be aware that he has not profited from this at all. I have him right in front of me, outraged about those allegations.

 
At Monday, October 26, 2009 2:33:00 PM, Anonymous MadRocketScientist said...

The gentleman who runs this site (http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com/) makes a good point:

Just goes to remind people that when police misconduct defenders say it’s only a small percentage of cops who do bad things, which it may well be, that it’s also a small percentage of people who commit crimes but that the small percentage of police who do it can commit acts of misconduct several times over before they are caught… and sometimes are allowed to continue doing it after they are caught because of a general unwillingness to hold them accountable.

 
At Monday, October 26, 2009 2:50:00 PM, Blogger Omnibus Driver said...

Not good at all.

On a separate note, if you like taking videos but don't want an expensive, complicated camera, consider a Flip. I've hauled mine to Ireland and back again a couple of times now, and I use it all the time at home. It's lightweight, can be operated with one hand, including zoom feature, comes in high def and has great sound quality, all for well under $200. And it's small enough to slip into a shirt or pants pocket. I love mine!

 
At Monday, October 26, 2009 3:43:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

MadRocketScientist, I'm not going to pretend that some people aren't afraid of police inaction, or worse-- retaliation-- to their complaints of any police misconduct. But when you've got video proof of misconduct, it makes it easy to go to an overlapping agency with it, if there is no satisfaction. Local police refuse to answer for the misdeeds? Take it to the sheriff's office. Or to the state agencies. Or to the federal agencies.

And, on the issue of accountablility, police are the EASIEST to identify in crimes. They drive around generally in marked units with big numbers on them. They wear uniforms and badge numbers and name tags, and generally are required by policy to provide their identification if asked. They keep daily logs of their actions, and are dispatched specifically to locations. They have body microphones and cameras that run during stops and often during other interactions. Because of their status, people watch them, watching to see if something will happen.

It's kind of hard to be sneaky about being a criminal, when you're a cop.

 
At Monday, October 26, 2009 4:35:00 PM, Anonymous MadRocketScientist said...

It isn't about not being able to identify the perpetrator, it's about police agencies demonstrating an unwillingness to hold their officers to the same standard they hold private citizens. I mean, how do the likes of Matthew Leavitt (http://wvgazette.com/News/200910220841) in Charleston, WV stay in the job after numerous previous allegations of intimidation, harassment, and abuse (I heard it was 20 separate instances, but I've seen nothing official).

I know police get accused all the time of all sorts of unsubstantiated things, and that departments have to make sure that such allegations are airtight before handing one of their own over to the DA, but everytime one of these incidences hits the news, and it looks like the police were protecting a bad cop, or turning a blind eye to one, it erodes the public trust in the police just a little bit more.

If departments aren't willing to police themselves until something so ugly surfaces that they have no choice, why should people trust them to police everyone else?

 
At Monday, October 26, 2009 4:48:00 PM, Anonymous MadRocketScientist said...

I should also add that the growing prevalence of portable video recorders is a good thing (answers the question of "Who watches the Watchers?"; ANS: Everybody!). I hope that as almost everyone comes to own such devices, police departments and DAs will stop trying to push rules that private citizens are not allowed to record the police in public (I know such rules still exist in some places).

I also hope that officers try to keep in mind that whatever they are doing, they stand a good chance of being on tape. Don't be doing anything you wouldn't want your mother to see you doing.

 
At Monday, October 26, 2009 7:00:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

"I hope that as almost everyone comes to own such devices, police departments and DAs will stop trying to push rules that private citizens are not allowed to record the police in public (I know such rules still exist in some places)."

And where would such places be? I've never heard of such a rule, law, code, or ordinance, except with regard to national security issues regarding photographing or taping specific actions or areas, such as documenting the security checkpoints of high-security areas.

 
At Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:08:00 AM, Anonymous MadRocketScientist said...

I remember hearing about a few such cases out East (PA, MA, MD), where there have been instances of private citizens running afoul of wiretap laws for making audio recordings of Police (http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnews/2007/06/brian_d_kelly_didnt_think.html). I haven't heard of any such instances lately, so it may be that Police & Prosecutors have given up that line, or that legislators have adjusted the local laws. Not sure.

 
At Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:45:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Interesting concept, though in public places there is no expectation of privacy. In private places, all you would need to do is inform the people that they're being recorded.

Fortunately, in Texas, we have the sensible approach: so long as one of the people in the conversation knows they're recording, it's legal. I can record my own conversations, and if you happen to take part in them, then they're not guaranteed to not be recorded. Because face it: anything that you tell someone else is no longer a secret.

 
At Tuesday, November 03, 2009 3:27:00 AM, Anonymous Will said...

Haven't watched the whole thing yet, but some very disturbing things shown of police improprieties.

The Largest Street Gang in America

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=54162036

 

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