NPR Today

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

You can now listen to the recording of my appearance on NPR’s “On Point” here.

I thought it was a good discussion, though there was very little disagreement. Even the police union rep they had on seems to have changed his mind about this issue.

What’s interesting—and unfortunate—is that despite the lopsided public support for the idea that citizens should be permitted to record on-duty cops, legislatures around the country still aren’t doing much to clarify the law, and the cops and prosecutors who violate the law by wrongly arresting, jailing, and charging people aren’t held accountable.

Politicians are usually way behind the public on this sort of thing, but this issue really isn’t even close. I think part of the problem is that Democrats tend to get a lot of support from police unions, and Republicans are still loathe to stake out any position that appears even vaguely in opposition to law enforcement. So there’s no really upside to taking a stand—except for good government, sound public policy, and respect for individual rights. But those generally aren’t the sorts of priorities that lead to success in politics.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

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9 Responses to “NPR Today”

  1. #1 |  Steve Verdon | 

    URL is borked

  2. #2 |  Buddy Hinton | 

    I feel your pain, Mr. Balko. In fact, I share it.

  3. #3 |  John P. | 

    The only way this will ever change will be from a massive public outcry.

    An unmistakable and un-ignorable grass roots movement demanding it stop.

    The only thing politicians are afraid of are votes. And if enough voters send a clear and unmistakable message to the elected, stop this right now or pack your bags. It will stop.

    Plus we must demand that any law contain language that clearly holds police accountable for unlawful arrests.

    The quickest way to cut police misconduct in half over night will be to pass laws holding the individual officers themselves both criminally and civilly liable for their unlawful actions.

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I think this whole thing is going to go the way of Kelo. The Supreme Court is going to eventually rule that it’s ok to ban the recording of cops, there will be a big public uproar, but in the end, it’s still going to be ok to ban the recording of cops.

  5. #5 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I think this whole thing is going to go the way of Kelo. The Supreme Court is going to eventually rule that it’s ok to ban the recording of cops, there will be a big public uproar, but in the end, it’s still going to be ok to ban the recording of cops.

    Unfortunately this.

    And there will be those who say, “Well if you aren’t breaking the law why are your worried.”

    I hope everyone of those people go through a 3AM no-knock SWAT raid.

  6. #6 |  DoubleU | 

    Several states have already banned the recording of the police. However I am sure the police will be glad to have that video if the video proves they were justified for their actions.

  7. #7 |  Josh Jordan | 

    Great job, Radley. It was unfortunate, though, that the only person Tom could find to represent the point of view of the police actually was in agreement with the rest of you. As one NPR commentor wrote: “On Point is produced in Boston, MA – one of the two states mentioned on the program as having passed laws that specifically prohibit citizens from recording police activities. Tom’s staff clearly failed to contact MA officials – just down the street at the Attorney General’s Office, State Police or Boston PD to find a spokesperson to defend their point of view. If the staff did try and contact MA officials and those officials declined to participate, that too is worthy of comment.”

  8. #8 |  SJE | 

    Relatedly:

    The Canadian Broadcast Company just won an award for its investigation into the death of a Canadian teenager who hanged herself in prison, in full view of several prison guards, who watched while she died. It was all caught on video. The parents and media want the video released, but the prison fought tooth and nail against it. It is supposed to released soon. Surprise (not) there is a more vigorous investigation as a result.
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/06/14/ashley-smith-inquest-could-be-broadcast-on-web/

    here is the extra outrage. She was imprisoned at 15 for throwing crab apples at the postal worker. She then racked up additional charges in prison for refusing to toe the line. She killed herself at 19.

  9. #9 |  Greg | 

    I think this whole thing is going to go the way of Kelo. The Supreme Court is going to eventually rule that it’s ok to ban the recording of cops, there will be a big public uproar, but in the end, it’s still going to be ok to ban the recording of cops.

    Sadly,

    Dave you are right.

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