War on Cameras

Police Suddenly Care About Citizen Privacy When Body Cameras Enter the Picture

Missouri legislator wants to keep police recordings secret.


Public safety is none of your business.

Nearly everybody thinks they know what happened between Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown on that fateful day in 2014, but the fatal shooting of Brown was not captured on film. The lack of documentation has helped the nationwide push for more cameras on police and on their cars. Studies have shown such cameras both reduce incidences of use of force by police officers as well as complaints of misconduct by police officers.

Bravely standing against this new movement is Republican Missouri State Sen. Doug Libla. In the very state where Brown was shot and days of angry clashes between citizens and police occurred, he has introduced Senate Bill 331. SB 331 does two awful things:

  • Declares that all footage recorded by police or police vehicles is not a public record and may not be released except via court order.
  • Prohibits the state from requiring officers to wear body cameras or attach cameras to their vehicles or from mandating law enforcement agencies provide such cameras.

According to the president of the Northwest Missouri Regional Fraternal Order of Police, it's all about citizen privacy. Here's what Michael Harden told the St. Joseph News-Press:

"If we respond to and are speaking to a victim of domestic violence or rape or even just something simple like a simple stealing call, we don't want that type of footage to be obtained by citizens, any citizen that decides they want it," Mr. Hardin said. "This legislation would stop a lot of that and protect the rights of citizens throughout Missouri."

How sarcastic a response is needed here when evaluating the sincerity of police's concerns about the privacy of its citizenry? Should I bring up the many ways police attempt to bypass having to get a search warrant to search a person or said person's property? Stop and frisk? Drug-sniffing dogs? DUI checkpoints? License plate readers? StingRay cellphone tracking? How many Supreme Court decisions are there directly connected to police having no concern about citizen privacy anyway?

Nobody believes Hardin, or nobody should believe Hardin, particularly since the second part of the legislation has nothing to do with protecting citizens and everything to do with forbidding the state from requiring police cameras. Legislation could have set up an avenue for citizens who do want to protect their privacy to block the public release of police video. But that's not what is happening here. This law would require anybody who wants access to any police video at all to go to court to demand its release, which would probably be expensive, require a lawyer, reverse the presumption of government transparency, and require citizens and media to convince a judge that the public has a right to see what police have done.

Readers may recall the failed efforts by Connecticut officials to seal the 911 records from the Newtown shootings through a variety of arguments Jacob Sullum once dismissed as "disingenuous" and a judge said "borders on the frivolous." Those actions dragged out the release of the information for a year. Imagine having to do that for every single incident where a police officer is accused of misconduct during interactions with a citizen.

Here's Reason TV showing how much the police in New Mexico care about citizens' privacy:

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  1. I’ve always said the government won’t confiscate 401Ks, it will just ‘encourage’ investment advisers to put the money in T Bills in order to protect us peasants from our own stupidity……



    1. “But take these proposals together, and you can see a possible vision of what retirement savings in the 21st century might look like if President Obama gets his way. It will still revolve around tax-advantaged individual accounts invested in private accounts, with all the risk that implies. But the system may have a few more built-in safeguards to protect people from themselves.”

      1. But the system may have a few more built-in safeguards to protect people from themselves.

        You know who else runs protection rackets?

    2. Right now, there are no uniform rules of the road that require retirement advisers to act in the best interests of their clients, and that’s hurting millions of working and middle class families,” Mr. Obama said.

      And you know, if people aren’t forced to do something by a rule and gun they won’t do it, no matter how good it is for them.

    3. Of course, when the government gets around to mandating that 401(k)s have to have a percentage invested in Treasuries (which they will, I’m sure), that is a de facto confiscation of that percentage.

      They are taking your cash, and giving you an IOU. Close enough to confiscation for me.

      1. At that point does it make sense to spend every penny you get? The only reason I save is because I want a comfy retirement. If I can’t have that I might as well live decadently now.

        1. Basically. Why be an ant when being a subsidized grasshopper means a 10-20% increase in take home pay?

    4. “Right now, there are no uniform rules of the road that require retirement advisers to act in the best interests of their clients, and that’s hurting millions of working and middle class families,” Mr. Obama said.

      Sigh… yes there is, you fuckwit, it’s called rational self interest. If a retirement advisor acts in a way that’s contrary to their clients’ best interest, they’re not going to have many clients left pretty soon. Jesus titty-fucking Christ, this guy’s a fucking moron.

    5. Why are you talking about 401ks, when the video is about police abuse?

  2. I knew they would come around. I mean they work with civilians on a daily basis, so they know what’s important to them. And privacy is way up there. Yay for our heroes!

  3. Someone needs those FoP donations.

    1. Chief Rhodes said there are strict policies officers have to use in the field, but ultimately, turning the cameras on or off is left at the officer’s discretion, “We give them the ability to make split second decisions. This camera’s just another component of the resources and tools that they have.”

      If the point of the cameras is to catch bad cops, then giving them the discretion to turn them off defeats the purpose. So obviously that’s not the purpose.

      1. 0945:*camera on* “Hi officer, what’s the problem?” *camera off*
        1000: *camera on* STOP RESISTING! BLAM!BLAM! BLAM!

  4. I want a camera on every cop every minute they are on duty. Failure to have the camera on results in overturning any arrest made at that time and gets the cop fired from the force.

    Then I want all cops replaced by robots.

    1. Camera drones should follow cops. Then at least there would be video of the cop shooting at the drone before he shoots anything else.

      1. Armed camera drones, then. Programmed to automatically return fire.

        1. Ooh. That’s good.

      2. “Camera drones should follow cops. Then at least there would be video of the cop shooting at the drone before he shoots EVERYTHING else.”

        Fixed that for ya.

      3. Cops aren’t the brightest. At least one cop will shoot himself trying to shoot out his own body camera. Of course his unfortunate would be victim will get hung up on first degree murder charges, but we all know it’s going to happen…

  5. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing,,,,,,,,,

  6. A Carlos Miller runs PINAC: Photography Is Not a Crime. He’s making a career out of showing how LEOs, at every turn, can’t stand being recorded by anyone.


    There’s a reason cops hate being recorded: They are terrified their daily…no, make that hourly… lawlessness and disdain for the US Constitution will be revealed. Today’s LEO, at any level, will be trusted at your peril.

    And no, I am NOT some “sovereign” idiot that speaks in tongues.

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