Free Speech

City Council Furious at Cop Who Played Disney Songs To Keep from Being Recorded

There is some confusion over what the response should be, but there is broad agreement that the officer acted inappropriately.


Earlier this month, a Santa Ana, California, police officer blasted Disney songs in an attempt to keep videos of himself off of the Internet. Now, the city government is demanding answers.

On April 4, officers responded to a report of a stolen car in a residential neighborhood late at night. As a local YouTuber approached the scene, one officer began playing Disney songs at a high volume through loudspeakers. The music continued until Johnathan Ryan Hernandez, a Santa Ana city councilman who happened to live nearby, identified himself and asked the officer to stop. The officer admitted that he was playing the music to create a "copyright infringement" headache for the person filming.

Last week, at a Santa Ana City Council meeting, council members excoriated the officer's actions. Councilman David Penaloza called it "one of the most embarrassing things I've ever seen." Hernandez said, "There's no reason to ever behave this way with members of the public, especially if you're an officer with a badge and a gun." And Mayor Vicente Sarmiento lamented that such an event "chills" the city's efforts to "build trust with the community."

After the video initially went viral, Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin indicated that the officer was under investigation. Hernandez submitted an ordinance seeking to ban the practice, but as Valentin pointed out at the council meeting, the officer's actions were already against policy: According to the Santa Ana Police Policy Manual, the department "recognizes the right of persons to lawfully record members of this department who are performing their official duties. Members of this department will not prohibit or intentionally interfere with such lawful recordings."