Telecommunications Policy

NAACP Sets Up Website for Cell Phone Videos of Police Misconduct

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This is a great idea:

The initiative includes a bold new online effort, the NAACP Rapid Report System (RRS), a quick, effective way for citizens to report instances of police misconduct, and to help public safety officials move beyond the "tough on crime" policies that have lost their effectiveness. The Rapid Report System will be available starting July 6, through the NAACP website (www.naacp.org).

The user-friendly online RRS form will allow residents to send instant texts, emails, or video reports of police abuse to the association via cell phone. 

The good news is that the technology behind this is only going to get better. Services like Qik already offer live streaming and instant archiving of cell phone videos. The service requires a fairly high-end phone and service plan, but as phones and plans get cheaper, Qik and similar sites are bound to get more popular. If they're smart, the makers of the terrific, inexpensive FlipVideo devices will partner with a cell service provider and come up with a cheap way to give their customers web access.

As we saw in Iran last month, the ability to instantly capture photos and video and store them off-site is an incredibly powerful tool. As more and more people acquire it, police officers will have to approach their jobs with the knowledge that everything they do while on duty can legally be captured and stored on a server they won't be able to access. Confiscating phones and cameras won't work anymore. The law enforcement community shouldn't fight this technology, they should embrace it. It's just as likely to protect the good cops from false reports of abuse as it is to expose the bad ones.

(Hat tip: Popehat)

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  1. Just when you think the NAACP is an organization that has outlived its usefulness, they do something like this.

    Props to the NAACP for this one.

  2. Good for the NAACP. Generally they are as worthless as tits on a bore. But this is a great idea.

  3. It’s just as likely to protect the good cops from false reports of abuse as it is to expose the bad ones.

    And that right there should be the selling point. Since so many officers claim that there are many more good cops than bad ones, this should help support that assertion.

    Nice job to the NAACP for that one, although these are words I never thought I’d actually say (or type as the case may be).

  4. This is huge. And wonderful. Much better a generally respected (though increasingly obsolete) organization like the NAACP than some scruffy fringe group like ANSWER.

  5. As more and more people acquire it, police officers will have to approach their jobs with the knowledge that everything they do while on duty can legally be captured and stored on a server they won’t be able to access.

    Then we move on to the Truth Machine.

  6. It’s just as likely to protect the good cops from false reports of abuse as it is to expose the bad ones.

    How come we hear so much about the one category and not so much about the other?

    tits on a bore

    I forget which law this is an example of, but awesome.

  7. On my commute home yesterday, I tried to get a video of the cruiser ahead of me while keeping my own speedometer in the frame to show 85 MPH in a 55 zone, but I nearly crashed and so decided to give up.

    I think he was trying to time-travel.

  8. LOL. Fools!

    Now come the laws making it a felony to video tape police on duty. Go ahead, send that video of a cop punching a boy scout in the nuts for not calling him sir, but you’ll go to jail, the officer will get paid leave.

  9. Now come the laws making it a felony to video tape police on duty.

    When is a lawman really off-duty?

  10. tits on a bore

    I forget which law this is an example of, but awesome.

    That’s up there with “towing the lion”.

  11. @FrBunny
    Was it a Delorean?

  12. Hear, hear! This is the single most useful thing the NAACP has done in a couple of decades.

    -jcr

  13. How come we hear so much about the one category and not so much about the other?

    “Man bites dog”.

    When the video exonerates the officer, it’s not news.

    -jcr

  14. And don’t forget, without the drug war the DeLorean would still be plaguing driving our streets today.

  15. police officers will have to approach their jobs with the knowledge that everything they do while on duty can legally be captured and stored on a server they won’t be able to access.

    For a guy who’s been covering police misconduct this long, Radley is sometimes amazingly naive.

  16. Now come the laws making it a felony to video tape police on duty.

    My thought exactly. If you think the cops will take this lying down, you are nuts.

  17. I was with Radley on this, but the naysayers have won me over already.

    I still agree with Radley in spirit, but in reality I think the laws will be changed to punish the people recording cop misconduct.

  18. Now come the laws making it a felony to video tape police on duty.

    My thought exactly. If you think the cops will take this lying down, you are nuts.

    It depends upon how soon the first video hits YouTube, how dramatic it is, and how frequently it is followed up by others.

    It always takes a long time to get laws passed. I expect there will be a large body of video evidence against the police before any state or local jurisdiction can put a new law in place. And once the problem is out of the shadows and out on the Internet in all it’s splendor, it will be very hard to ban these videos.

    At any rate, it’s Friday afternoon, and I’m feeling semi-optimistic today.

  19. Of course Epi – but I think one of the good things is that the NAACP can fight the cops and use all sorts of bullshit rhetoric to counter whatever bullshit rhetoric the police and unions would use to make it illegal. Normally I’d be against this type of behavior, but really it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of fuckfaces.

    When a police chief starts politicking that it should be illegal to video police offers, the NAACP trots out the Rodney King beating. Shitstorm ensues.

  20. Epi, I agree that there will be huge pushback against this from the LEO, prosecutor, law-and-order and statist constituencies. However, I think that few of those laws would actually pass (probably only at the city/county levels in a few jurisdictions), and would hopefully be overturned by the courts.

    Plus, such laws would make most surveillance cameras illegal.

    What I really fear is police cell-jamming technology, for “officer safety” of course.

  21. Marty DMC was going under. That’s why John decided to go into the smuggling biz, to bail out DMC.

  22. Generally they are as worthless as tits on a bore.

    John, you are just knocking it out of the park with your RC’z Law activities these past few days.

    Now come the laws making it a felony to video tape police on duty.

    Ya know, ordinarily I pride myself as being as cynical as the next four guys added together, but I just don’t see this happening.

  23. The law enforcement community shouldn’t fight this technology, they should embrace it.

    Nah, they only like technology that allows them to watch us – like traffic video cameras.

  24. What I really fear is police cell-jamming technology, for “officer safety” of course.

    Never happen. Jamming is indescriminate, many, many, many legitimate communications would be interrupted. The service providers are big corporations with lots o’ bucks. No local or even state jurisdiction could ever pass a law to allow jamming of signals in a public setting (the cell providers are currently doing everything they can to squash cell phone jamming in prisons where cell phones are verbotten).

  25. Ska, Tonio, you make good points, but the fact that SWAT teams can shoot people’s dogs and nothing gets done about it makes me very cynical about what people will let the police get away with, from immediately confiscating cell phones to beating the shit out of anyone holding anything electronic for “endangering officer safety”.

    Though I do admit that watching the police organizations and the NAACP going at each other would be a great thing to see.

  26. I’ve been looking at the site, and there is currently no function for showing the videos or pictures, and no plan indicated to do so. The NAACP is just soliciting and cataloging them…

  27. It’s just as likely to protect the good cops from false reports of abuse as it is to expose the bad ones.

    Sweet, so now citizens can start using the old, “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear,” line on the cops for once.

  28. …cell providers are currently doing everything they can to squash cell phone jamming in prisons

    It was the push for cell phone jamming in prisons that made me think of that. If they legalize jammers for prison use, expect a lot of “oops, I had left my the police cruiser jammer on after I dropped off the perp at the jail” type arguments.

    Yes, I realize that stationary jammers in the jails would make a lot more sense, but expect LEO’s to push for access to portable jammers “for officer safety” and “in extreme situations, only.”

  29. It’s just as likely to protect the good cops from false reports of abuse as it is to expose the bad ones.

    Yeah good point. Their opposition to any sort of oversight or monitoring has always seemed to fly directly in the face of their favorite “few bad apples” argument.

  30. “SWAT teams can shoot people’s dogs”

    Once the video of Rover gettin’ wasted hits the tubez there will be a lot more reaction. If a picture’s worth 1K words a video is worth 1GB.

  31. Especially whe Rover is a pomeranian running away from the officer….

  32. Epi, I agree that things are grim, particularly after the Cheye Calvo outrage, but I’m still hoping that things will change. If those of us who believe in liberty give up, we are lost. And I’m not saying it will be easy, or quick, or ultimately successful. But giving up is the sure path to failure.

  33. I wonder what the fine print will say on the service. Who will own the video? If the NAACP doesn’t want to pursue your grievance can you get your video and use it yourself?

    I expect once this starts getting useful there’ll be a bunch of devices that you can plug in and stream to any online storage you want.

  34. Anyone who thinks cops wouldn’t get more zealous about shutting down camera-toting bystanders – with or without a law permitting them to do so – is not only naive but blind to current events since they’re already doing so. I believe there already is such a law in the UK, and the cops seem to drop everything at a chance to enforce it.

    The trick isn’t to hope cops will turn “if you aren’t doing anything wrong” on themselves, because of course they won’t. The trick is to do like the folks did during that Oakland transit shooting: MOB the cops with camera phones and melt away, and post them videos far and wide. I’d love for that practice to become so ubiquitous that any cop would know it could happen to him any time, any where. Maybe, just maybe, that would make the incidents get just a little more isolated.

  35. The way around this is sadly pretty simple. Local governments just make it a crime to videotape an officer doing his official duty. They could do it in the name of privacy and of course officer safety.

  36. Yes, I realize that stationary jammers in the jails would make a lot more sense, but expect LEO’s to push for access to portable jammers “for officer safety” and “in extreme situations, only.”

    Pretty much how SWAT teams from evolved-from small forces used only in specific extreme circumstances and a feature of only a small number of police departments, to large paramilitary forces with more things they are used for then not and a feature of nearly every police department.

    Imagine this happening with cell phones-first prisons, then county jails, then transport buses, temporary staging area (a la Denver), then ‘standoffs’, then ‘high risk’ warrant service, then regular warrant service, then traffic stops.

    It’s not that unrealistic to think that every cop will want his own little cell phone jammer, except of course when they’re on it. This brings up another interesting thing.
    Shouldn’t cops on duty be required to use official (monitored) communication channels to conduct official business?

  37. The way around this is sadly pretty simple. Local governments just make it a crime to videotape an officer doing his official duty.

    That would run right into the brick wall of the 1st ammendment when “news” gatherers try to film current events happening in the public sphere.

  38. That would run right into the brick wall of the 1st ammendment when “news” gatherers try to film current events happening in the public sphere.

    “officer safety” trumps all, including that damned piece of paper. No, the answer is widespread camera phones and massive civil disobedience.

  39. johnl, supposedly he was innocent.

  40. I don’t think LEO’s will be able to make the video taping illegal. Once that first video of a couple of pigs yucking it up killing Fido who wasn’t threatening any harm will make it difficult for the pigs to get the law passed. I believe, as mentioned above, there is a threshhold of numbers and severity that would make it nearly impossible. If they so, so what? If a repressed place like Iran can make videos and get them distributed, I have faith that our uber 20-something skateboard emo punks will be able to do the same.

    The jammers pose their own problems. What is their range? People aren’t going to tolerate wide black holes just for the LEOs (whom all I see using phones themselves). The first time someone dies because some pig wanted to beat the shit out of a Mexican, will deter their use. And again so what if they jam the signal? I don’t believe a jammer interferes with the video recording function. So the videographer can just drive out of range of the jammer, then post the video.

  41. “It’s just as likely to protect the good cops from false reports of abuse as it is to expose the bad ones.”

    Not that this isn’t great news, but… I don’t really imagine a lot of people are going to spend their time uploading video of cops not abusing people. At best, it can weed out enough bad cops that the remainder regain the trust of the public, but that will still take a lot of time even once the bad apples are gone.

  42. The law enforcement community shouldn’t fight this technology, they should embrace it. It’s just as likely to protect the good cops from false reports of abuse as it is to expose the bad ones.

    That would be truer if reports of police abuse, true or false, were all that worrisome to the accused.

  43. nice post..
    ___________________
    Britney
    Entertainment at one stop

  44. “For a guy who’s been covering police misconduct this long, Radley is sometimes amazingly naive.”

    I take it he’s never had the opportunity to watch a few episodes of COPS. I don’t think you could get through more than one or two episodes without seeing a few instances of 4th Amendment violations, excessive force or other forms of misconduct. And these are police officers that know damn well they’re being video taped for a nationally broadcast television show.

  45. Onyx, I agree with you. Now as far as making it a felony to phone video police misconduct goes, it is important to contact your local legislators to let them know that you are against that; you know that’s the first thing that police will push for.

  46. “””They could do it in the name of privacy and of course officer safety.””””

    Maybe for the latter, but what you do in public is public. Besides, a public official, doing work in the name of the public, in public space, has zero right to privacy. However, they may make a feeble attempt at the privacy issue.

  47. “””I don’t think you could get through more than one or two episodes without seeing a few instances of 4th Amendment violations, excessive force or other forms of misconduct.”””

    Maybe your perception of misconduct. Do you think the cops would actually allow them to broadcast something that would trigger a valid lawsuit?

  48. Now,

    We can start calling the organization the “National Association for the Advancement of Camera People.”

    They’ve always been there when there was counting to be done. And they’ve counted! And, still so, with this new site. BRAVO!

  49. And the left pisses and moans about the right being for anarchy? This is just not going to end well.

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