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Cops, Laws and Videotape

OPB | Sept. 22, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:44 p.m.

When and how should we be able to record officers of the law?

Seventeen years ago, a video of the arrest of a Los Angeles resident named Rodney King raised questions about recording police officers. Many of these legal and ethical questions still resonate in Oregon and elsewhere today. A Portlander who recently had his camera confiscated and received a citation for taping cops in action, intends to sue the Portland Police. The Oregon law used by officers to confiscate observers? equipment is somewhat ambiguous. It?s unclear how the law applies differently to video than it does to audio recordings.

For now, police observers continue to use video as a tool, and police officers continue to decide how to address the practice one case at a time. The city of Beaverton, for example, just decided not to pursue charges against a man who was arrested for recording another arrest.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of recording audio and video of police officers? Have you ever observed an arrest or other police action? What did you see? If you?ve ever been stopped or arrested by police, how did you feel about being observed by your fellow citizens?

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