by Robert Emmett Murphy, Jr.

A young man set up his camera and recorded the conduct of the police at a DUI checkpoint. Both the audio and video quality are good, so exactly what unfolded in this incident is not in question. This has become a scandal because of the cop’s alleged trampling of the boy’s constitutional rights and is being seen as an “abuse under the color of authority.”  I’ve watched the video, just like all those angered by it, and find I am also appalled.

Only, I’m appalled at this assault on professionals guilty of nothing but doing their jobs, under wholly legitimate police authority, and the apparent attempt on the young man’s part to undermine an anti-crime tactic that clearly saves lives and poses no significant risk to our freedoms.

The video:

 

I find it offensive that parlor libertarians and/or anarchists take such glee in a smart-ass video vigilante public embarrassing a professional preforming his duties. The DUI check point is constitutionally legitimate and professionally executed. The kid behind the wheel clearly rehearsed the confrontation he forced and was as provocative as possible without violating the law. He was desperate for the cop to make a mistake. And what significant mistake did the cop make? None, but he is being mocked planet-wide via the internet, which in the process is perhaps threatening his career.

Get this through your pathetic, privileged, narcissistic, heads — NO ONE’S rights were taken away. This has been to the Supreme Court (Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz) and the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints was upheld because:

 “No one can seriously dispute the magnitude of the drunken driving problem or the States’ interest in eradicating it…the weight bearing on the other scale…the measure of the intrusion on motorists stopped briefly at sobriety checkpoints…is slight.”

stopAnd what was the young man’s noble cause? To undermine the legitimacy of DUI checkpoints? To make the roads safer for drunk drivers? Why did the kid have the camera set up on July 4th? Because he knew the cops would be out there manning the checkpoint. And so do the drunks, which is why they arrange for driver services or designated drivers to get them home without killing anyone. And over the years, the number of drunk driving fatalities in this country has shrunk to a minuscule number because of the behavior modifying power of this kind of vigorous enforcement, which can be demonstrated in easily verifiable statistics.

(http://violentdeathproject.com/charts/United%20States%20Inflicted%20Drunk%20Driving%20Deaths-large.jpg)

When the kid refused to roll his window down, he was engaging in suspicious behavior. Why? Because the cop couldn’t get a proper view of the interior of his car. The most dangerous thing a cop does is a traffic stop. Traffic stops kill more cops than raids on crack-houses and meth labs. By choosing to oppose the cop in exactly that way, the kid undoubtedly knew the cop’s only possible interpretation of the situation was that it was a preamble to a threatening situation. Faced with the challenge, and uncertain what it represented, what did the cop do? Well, I’ll tell you what he didn’t do. Although he certainly showed his frustration, he didn’t arrest, abuse, or demean him in anyway.

checkIt’s true that some of the cop’s statements were a bit heavy-handed, but the kid deliberately manipulated the cop into an ambiguous, apparently risky situation, pulling strings like the cop was his puppet.

The young man did nothing illegal, but he did plenty wrong. I pray the kid is never given real authority over any one’s life, because it is he, not the officer in question, who has demonstrated that he will use whatever power he has for manipulative, demeaning, and corrupt purposes. And if I was the kid’s parent, I’d ground him until he was 35 years old.

 

 

 

8 Responses to Let the Police Do Their Work, That Means You, Buddy!

  1. Patrick H. Moore says:

    I don’t entirely agree with the author of this post. I do agree that the young man was quite obnxious and out of line by bothering the “professionals” while they went about their “duties.” On the other hand, the “professonials” were not particularly professional and showed absolutely no sense of humor. The kid was obviously effing with them and they should have just chuckled, rolled their eyes and sent him on his way. The kid didn’t sound “stoned” in the slightest and to do the K-9 seaarch was rather ridiculous.

    • BJW Nashe says:

      I am in favor of people getting stoned and bothering “professionals” while they do their “duties.” It’s funny. I realize not everyone agrees, which is fine.

      The larger issue here has to do with information. Cell phone video recorders are in many ways a cop’s worst nightmare. Can potentially record all sorts of wrongdoing, in addition to minor embarrassments. Right away it’s up on the internet. Cops don’t want to be filmed, unless they can control content. Oh well.

  2. SB says:

    Whether you agree with the naivete of this young person or not, his actions raise very serious questions regarding the procedures implemented by law enforcement authorities. The author of this post writes, “I find it offensive that parlor libertarians and/or anarchists take such glee in a smart-ass video vigilante public embarrassing a professional performing his duties.” It should be pointed out, however, that it doesn’t matter what political tendency the individual who filmed this DUI checkpoint encounter with law enforcement subscribes to, but rather, that this video functions as a glimpse into the actual practices and administration of the law by those that are meant to uphold the law. This video is not meant to embarrass a “professional performing his duties,” and really, this point doesn’t factor in the fact there is very little, if any, professionalism executed in performing “his duties.”

    Similar individuals have filmed their experiences at immigration checkpoints hundreds of miles away from the border within this country and similarly pointed out hostile exchanges. The reality is that while this police officer may have simply been doing his job, his behavior is indicative of what seems to be the difficulty of authorities’ ability to apply the law. Certainly, no one expects for there to be a “perfect administration of justice” in every single encounter between police and civilians, but let’s examine what actually took place within this exchange.

    First off, the exchange took place at a DUI checkpoint. Anyone that has ever been inconvenienced by a DUI checkpoint understands the protocol that is expected of drivers. However, there is a certain legal limbo which raises whether this routine stop pointed out by the individual and excellently exploited constitutes a detention. The individual filming the incident is well aware of the ambiguous nature surrounding the circumstances of being stopped at a DUI checkpoint. Rather than simply adhere to the orders of the police officer, he begins to challenge the officer’s commands basing his decision on his interpretation of asserting certain constitutionally protected rights.

    Following this challenge, the officer grows hostile and begins to shout a series of orders, expecting the individual to “obey.” Now this raises the question whether the individual posed a probable cause for the officer to shout these orders and whether there was a threat of danger that warranted this hostile behavior. Any individual viewing the video realizes that the only probable cause exhibited by the driver is the fact that he has challenged the officer and is non-compliant with his orders. That is to say, that the individual, by exercising his rights, has raised a certain level suspicion for the police officer. This ultimately leads to the question whether this constitutes a valid threat that requires the police officer to intervene and conduct a search with a K-9 unit, thus violating this individual’s right to privacy against unwanted searches and seizures.

    The lesson that can be extracted from the film is that by ultimately asserting his rights, the individual does pose a threat to the police officer. This hostile (though unsurprising) exchange conflates the responsibilities and administration of law by authorities in a position of power with those (naively)seeking to maintain the strength of the law by exercising their rights. Whether the cop is embarrassed or not is besides the point… the question is whether our civil liberties exist without being aggressively attacked every time we assert these rights.

  3. Chris says:

    While this is slightly off topic of the kid with the camera, I think it addresses something broader than the single incident. I spent 6 years on the job and was constantly aware of cameras, whether issued and mounted in the patrol car or those operated by people in the immediate area. I would like to believe that I always acted with the utmost professionalism and concern for the rights of those who I came into contact with. However, I did find one easy way to cut back on those who would whip out the camera just in an attempt to pester me while executing my sworn duties. The magic of the subpoena!
    If one is able to determine who it was with a camera during a situation that makes its way into the court system, subpoena the person and the recording. This generally caused them at least a couple of days worth of inconvenience for having to sit around a courtroom waiting to be called in to testify to what was observed and to verify that the video, now in evidence, was shot by them.
    As a general rule, the video taken by spectators, which they probably believed would show the evil ghestappo police engaged in abusive and illegal activity, would show a different angle of a confrontation with a suspect and would show, just as our vehicle cameras did, that the suspect initiated any confrontation and that force, if necessary, was of an appropriate level to gain control of the situation. I can only remember one incident when an outside video showed the possibility of an excessive force event. This event, for full disclosure, did not initially involve me but I was one of the responding back-up officers. The initial officer’s actions, in my opinion, could have been blamed for causing the situation to escalate and I would have probably handled it differently. However, until one is placed into that situation, one really does not know exactly how they would respond. A single officer attempting to execute an arrest while an entire neighborhood closes in around him in an aggressive manner gives a little bit of leeway for choices made in how to handle the situation.
    So, in the end; I don’t issue a sweeping condemnation of these citizens armed with video cameras. I do, however, wish that I could stress to them that the officers are engaged in a difficult and stressful job and that they should engage in these practices with a level of respect for those who are simply doing the job with respect and professionalism for the citizenry. Those who would do this merely for the rise of getting a reaction and trying to provoke officers are d-bags and absolutely nothing more.

    • BJW Nashe says:

      Please see Peter Maiden’s 03/29/13 post on this blog called “Is Photography a Crime?” He details some outrageous instances in which officers’ hostility toward people wielding cameras led to beatings and arrests. Maiden gathers useful information from Carlos Miller’s blog (Photography is Not a Crime). Check it out.

      Some people might be playing with pranks on cops. Some are doing photojournalism. Cops would prefer to intimidate them all so that they will just stop taking pictures or shooting video. People with cameras are seen as “enemies.”

      In this context, what are we to make of this post, and this particular comment. It’s pretty easy to see right through the name-calling and hostility. Cops are fearful of what’s going to be captured on film.

      Two words sums it up: Rodney King.

      • Patrick H. Moore says:

        “Cops are fearful of what’s going to be captured on film.Two words sums it up: Rodney King.”

        Truer words were never spoken!

  4. Darlene says:

    I agree that videotaping can catch criminal activity that does occur by the police towards innocent civilians. But this video is a blatant attempt to annoy the police officer.

    I agree, that the agitated police officer did not handle the situation very professionally, but at least the other police officer who stepped in did.

    Before jumping to conclusions about what an ass the one cop is, who knows the entire story behind this video? Perhaps the cop that is on edge just witnessed a horrific scene and the last thing he had at the moment was patience for dealing with a smart-ass.

    • Patrick H. Moore says:

      I agree that the kid was out of line. On the hand hand, the cop was certainly not very “user friendly.” He certainly fit a number of stereotypes.

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