ACLU To Sue Over Cops’ Seizure of Cameras From Bystanders

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia police are now the focus of several complaints from citizens who say that officers seized their cell phones when they used them to record the police making arrests.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it expects to file a lawsuit this month on behalf of four people who say police confiscated or destroyed their cell phones, and charged them with disorderly conduct, because they were videotaping what they considered to be police misconduct.

Mary-Catherine Roper,  a staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia office, says it’s a widespread problem.

“These (cases) are a big deal to us,” she told KYW Newsradio today, “because if there’s anything our Constitution gives us the power and in fact the obligation to do, it’s to monitor our government.”

Philadelphia Police deputy commissioner Richard Ross says the department does not condone the seizure of cell phones and, in fact, tells officers they are likely to be videotaped on the job.

“As a private citizen, you have the right to videotape,” he told KYW Newsradio this morning, “and our officers should be aware that they are probably always under some type of surveillance. There are so many cameras out there.”

Ross says the department will investigate any complaints it receives on this issue.

“We also would hope that some of the same private citizens who are willing to videotape our officers would be equally willing to videotape crimes in progress and forward those to us as well,” he said.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

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Comments

One Comment

  1. johan says:

    Once again that liberal ACLU is defending that pesky constitution.

  2. rick says:

    If you have nothing to hide don’t be afraid ofbeing videoed.Applies to Police too.

  3. Henry says:

    Protect and Server?

    The police are under no obligation to protect you. That is settled case law. Granted there may be a moral obligation, and many officiers will in fact protect, but that is their decision, not a requirement.

    As far as the “video tape a crime too” comment… All too often people will stand up and complain about “bad cops”, and they SHOULD. But similarly, many of these same people will not stand up and point out that Brad is molesting so-so’s daughter, or Chip is selling dope (feel free to substitute your favorite names and/or crimes).

    I wouldn’t call it arrogance, I would call it frustration. I understand the chief’s frustration.

  4. Jim says:

    Like it or not, the Philadelphia Police department must respect the law.

    From the article: “As a private citizen, you have the right to videotape,” he told KYW Newsradio this morning, “and our officers should be aware that they are probably always under some type of surveillance. There are so many cameras out there.”

    Deputy Commissioner Ross knows the law.

    I applaud the ACLU for this. For once they are getting something right.

  5. Angelo says:

    It all stems from the corruption of the D.A.’s office.

  6. Ken in South Jersey says:

    Ha ha I liked his answer…

    His message was…

    If you’re at a crime scene with a camera and don’t start shooting the action until the cops show up…then maybe your priorities are slightly skewed ha ha!

    If a cop beats the s**t out of a drug dealer and his druggie friends say…this is gonna look so awesome on my Facebook page…I don’t have a problem with a cop that says…aww, too bad you dropped your phone and it got stepped on ha ha!

    So Frannie Boy…just curious…if you were getting pounded on by a flash mob…who would you want to come to your aid…the sensitive, ACLU-friendly cop that’s going to talk to your attackers…or the arrogant cop that might break a skull or two? I know who I would want ha ha!

  7. Francis Graff says:

    Deputy Commissioner Ross. Your comment “video tape a crime too”, is exactly the arrogance we the people are afraid of. You sir, are paid to protect and serve the citizens of Philadelphia, and with integrity. Like it or leave it sir.

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