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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.kymberlieingalls.com/p/editing-services.html

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Smile, You're On Candid Camera!

NEW YORK -- In May, the Rochester Police Department arrested a woman on a charge of obstructing governmental administration after she videotaped several officers' search of a man's car. The charge is a criminal misdemeanor.

The only problem? Videotaping a police officer in public view is perfectly legal in New York state -- and the woman was in her own front yard. The arrest report of the incident also contains an apparent discrepancy from what is seen in the woman's own video.


May 12th, 2011

I can’t say this enough, people:  Don’t mess with anyone who has the power to toss you in jail unless you’re prepared to go. 

Now, this does not mean stand by silently and allow people with such power to abuse it.  Use your voice,  But… use it loudly, with the strength of your convictions – and be ready for the consequences that will undoubtedly come your way.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease. 

Sometimes that grease comes in the form of handcuffs. 

Emily Good believed she was doing the right thing based on her opinions of racial profiling, but lost that battle with Rochester police officer Mario Masic.

Good was repeatedly told "I don't feel safe with you standing behind me so I'm going to ask you go into your house.”  And with that statement, the officer clearly connected the dots of “Ignore my orders, I will arrest you.”  It’s a tactic that is often abused in a situation where questions are being asked and answers won’t be forthcoming. 

This was the officers’ mistake.
 
I’ve been in this situation myself, when it was clear to the officers I had no weapons on my person, and was of no threat to them.  What started out as a routine accident fast became a nightmare.  Apparently the CA Department of Motor Vehicles had failed to notify me that my license had been suspended.  Upon deciding that my car was to be impounded, the two officers proceeded to ransack my car without any probable car, including the contents of my purse, all on a public, very busy street in Berkeley.  Approaching them to ask what their reason was for this search, I was handed the same line:  “You are never to approach an officer from behind.  You will stand down until spoken to.” 

Way to make the public feel safe, guys.  It is officers like this, and like Masic, who perpetuate the public fear of “authority.”  When we feel our rights are being violated, and we want to know why – in a rational manner such as I started out with and is clear in Good’s video account when she’s stating what she understands to be her right to stand in her own yard recording a public incident – these officers are put on the spot and immediately become defensive. 

Understandably, a police officer needs to be alert every single second of every shift of every day.  They need to expect the unexpected.  I do not envy their choice of career.  But they are also there to ‘protect and serve.’ This includes answering questions, even uncomfortable questions. 

There can’t even be a shadow of a doubt that Good’s arrest was bogus.  The inconsistency in the report is this:  The police report of the arrest contains another apparent discrepancy from what appears on the video: Masic writes that the traffic stop targeted three individuals who "were all chalkem south gang members.’ "This gang is known for drugs guns and violence," Masic notes, underscoring the danger of the situation. The video, while dark, appears to only show one man led out of the car. Good's public defender says that as far as she has been able to determine, only one man was pulled over.  And the recording clearly shows she was not belligerent, overbearing or in any way threatening the safety of those officers.

We, here in California, know a little something about why police don’t want their mistakes to be monitored in this conspiracy-believing-camera-armed society.  To name just one, the arrest and accidental shooting of Oscar Grant by Officer Johannes Mehserle. 

video

That’s why it’s imperitive that the “I don’t feel safe” card needs to be used wisely by each and every working police officer.  And when they are clearly being recorded, that’s when they’d better be hoping they know the letter of the law and that it will keep their power trip in check. 

There was a case in March, 2010 of Anthony John Graber in Maryland being pulled over for speeding and showboating on his motorcycle, and he had an obvious helmet cam that was recording an off-duty officer approaching him waving a gun erratically with no visible badge to identify himself.  The subsequent charges didn't come until he posted the video on Youtube ten days later. 


"When the police act as though cameras were the equivalent of guns pointed at them, there is a sense in which they are correct. Cameras have become the most effective weapon that ordinary people have to protect against and to expose police abuse. And the police want it to stop." - Gizmodo.com

We all revel in a moment at some point of weilding some sort of power.  Someday I’ll tell you about my greatest trip – a rush I’ve never again experienced.  The greatest practical joke, ever. 

There are times, however, when that need to cover your ass on the job only ends up being the target painted by your own hand, and those you’re paid to protect now feel the need to be protected… from you.




© Kymberlie Ingalls, June 26, 2011
Sources: KGO-News, San Francisco / The Huffington Post / DemocratAndChronicle.com / Gizmodo.com


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