04 August 2010

Sort of hurrah

So here's an article for y'all to read, if you feel like it.

Otherwise, here's the beginning cut and pasted:

BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) -- An Oregon city has agreed to pay $19,000 to settle a federal lawsuit by a man the police arrested for using a cell phone to record the voice of an officer arresting a friend.

Beaverton police Chief Geoff Spalding says it's unlikely his officers would again arrest somebody for recording the voice of an officer, although he's not ruling it out.

A similar incident in Portland prompted city attorneys to advise the police that officers can't seize cameras or arrest people for recording them in public, except in rare circumstances.

The settlement comes almost two years after Beaverton police arrested Hao Xeng Vang, who used his cell phone to capture the arrest of one of his friends at the Valley Lanes Bowling Center in Beaverton.

Vang made no attempt to hide his recording and even narrated what he was capturing, said his attorney, Kevin Lucey.

"He kept on saying, 'Don't worry. I've got it on tape,'" Lucey said.

After about 10 minutes, Officer Jason Buelt seized Vang's phone and arrested him. The city returned the phone in October, but the recording was deleted. Lucey said officials made copies.

After an investigation, Spalding said, Buelt was disciplined for deleting the recording, but Spalding declined to provide details. Buelt is now a detective.

Prosecutors dropped the case against Vang on the grounds the audio quality was so poor it might not have qualified as a violation of the law.

Beaverton city lawyers wrote two memos saying that in most encounters with residents police don't have an expectation of privacy and they should assume they are being recorded.

Okay, okay... so that's actually about the first 60% of the article. But it's all good, right?

...or, at least, it's mostly good. While I'm happy about the police not thinking they should have an expectation of privacy when they're arresting people, I'm not happy that it's even a question, or that they still think they have the right to arrest people just for taking video of them.

Here, let me apply the same logic they do: what do they have to hide? Why are they so afraid of our recording them?

(for those of y'all who aren't aware, this is a post-9/11 thing... they can record us whenever they want, including our phone calls and our emails, whether or not they have a warrant, but it's a felony-caliber violation of wiretapping laws for any of us to so much as take a picture of any of them. hurrah.)

Anyways. /pseudo-rant, /angst, and /linkdr.

All y'all have a great day... I'm getting back to work now. Test in the morning, final draft of essay hopefully finished by Aug 22 or so.

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