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Federal Judge to Camera-Shy
Austin Cops: People Have a Right
to Record You. Deal With It.

Reason, by Jacob Sullum

Original Article

Posted By:StormCnter, 7/27/2014 6:04:36 AM

As my colleagues and I frequently note, Americans have a well-established constitutional right to record police officers as they publicly perform their duties. Yet cops across the country continue to harass and arrest people for exercising that right, using bogus charges such as wiretapping, resisting arrest, and interfering with police. Yesterday yet another federal judge issued a clear message to those cops: Cut it out. The case was brought by Antonio Buehler, an Austin, Texas, activist who has had several run-ins with camera-shy cops. The first incident occurred on January 1, 2012, when Buehler pulled into a 7-11 in Austin


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Reply 1 - Posted by: Shucky, 7/27/2014 6:28:30 AM     (No. 9941691)

We The People pay the salaries of public servants, who serve us and we are their masters. It is high time that they be on notice that we will watch them and lawfully record them while on duty and hold them accountable for any and all abuses of the public trust which is a privilege we bestow them from our good graces. We are their masters, not the other way around. We should never have to dread interactions with police, bureaucrats or anyone else on the public payroll. That´s un-American.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: gerty, 7/27/2014 6:33:25 AM     (No. 9941695)

Couldn´t agree with the Federal Judge more--however, the right to record police is easily abused. When does the execution of this right turn into harassment and/or obstruction?

In the inimitable words of Yul Brynner in The King and I "...it´s a puzzlement!"

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Reply 3 - Posted by: Cavallodifiero, 7/27/2014 6:40:54 AM     (No. 9941701)

The Police have a way of exercising control over the citizenry which admittedly is often not legal, however the people who find themselves victims of that sort of behavior by the Police are usually the Antonio Buehlers´ of the world, they try to get the Police dealing with the enemies of our society, the protectors of illegal aliens, Muslim activists who constantly try to create scenarios where our enemies are "seemingly" doing nothing wrong.

In fairness to everyone I don´t think the Police simply pick on innocent neighborhood organizers walking down the street. Do you? What the Police are DEALING with, are mostly anti-societal punks playing all the angles. On the other hand no one seems to care about Politicians and government agencies who usurp their power at the expense of the citizens the Federal Judge claims to be protecting. Can you say Obama, Holder, Pelosi or Harry Reid boys and girls.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: bubby, 7/27/2014 6:44:28 AM     (No. 9941702)

#1 I agree. I support cops and know they have a very tough often thankless job. But I´m sick of that attitude also, the shooting of dogs for no reason, the excessive use of force on the elderly and handicapped, telling innocent civilians what they can or can´t do often in violation of the law or they will get arrested. It has to stop. If the cops are not violating the law then they shouldn´t have any problem with being recorded. I believe all cops should wear cameras to avoid incomplete videos being used against them. Spend more money on individual cameras and less on military assault equipment. I´m concerned the Feds are turning our own police against us.

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Reply 5 - Posted by: chumley, 7/27/2014 7:06:55 AM     (No. 9941707)

A small win for the good guys. I do feel for the cops in that everyone makes small mistakes in their jobs. Most of the time we are able to brush it over and press on. If someone were following me around with a camera and publishing every mistake it would be at the very least unnerving.
Unfortunately, the police code of silence has caused it to swing so far the other direction that all mistakes and even deliberate criminal activity are hidden. Truly evil bullies are as protected as the guy who forgot to calibrate his radar.
Besides, the courts have decided that we have no expectation of privacy in public, so the government can record us any time they want, Soviet style. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: franq, 7/27/2014 7:25:20 AM     (No. 9941723)

Wiretapping? That´s good. Perhaps my cynicism is shaped by all the cops I´ve seen hiding with radar guns, trying to generate revenue. One day coming home from work I saw four cops on motorcycles in a 2 mile stretch, with people pulled over. These new "unmarked" motorcycles and riders are almost Robo-coppish.

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Reply 7 - Posted by: Doctor P, 7/27/2014 7:47:19 AM     (No. 9941738)

Can I have a piece of the lawsuit?

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Reply 8 - Posted by: Scrubber, 7/27/2014 7:54:55 AM     (No. 9941750)

#4, "thankless job". Nah. These blue-suited, jackbooted thugs(tm) are constantly hailed as heroes. Yet 90% of their time seems to be generating revenue on the public roads. I hope this Buehler (Buehler, Buehler, Buehler) nails the municipality for $197,877,054.

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Reply 9 - Posted by: StormCnter, 7/27/2014 7:58:27 AM     (No. 9941756)

I have friends and neighbors who are cops. It´s a hard job and not well-paid. Most of them deserve our respect. There is a certain type of personality, however, that too often gravitates to either law enforcement or the military where power can be exercised. Now, both are using psychological testing to avoid those individuals.

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Reply 10 - Posted by: uno, 7/27/2014 8:33:33 AM     (No. 9941795)

There is an increasing effort to militarize the police in this county with this administration giving military hardware to Police departments knowing they will not be refused. Along with all this is the attitude of invincibility and superiority that can develop in some officers. Of course this administration is also creating crisis after crisis to fan the flames as well, so this is a good decision, but expect to see more of this chaos on You Tube!

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Reply 11 - Posted by: stablemoney, 7/27/2014 8:39:52 AM     (No. 9941803)

Cops have known its your word against theirs, and they are backed by their friends at court. The cameras are good thing that make it no longer your word against theirs, and forces them to obey the law as well.

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Reply 12 - Posted by: skedaddle, 7/27/2014 8:53:32 AM     (No. 9941816)

The moral of this story is to only record the cops if you´re set up to automatically upload the video somewhere else besides the camera. And password protect the uploading. It´s honestly doing a favor to good cops for the bad ones to be publicly outed and hopefully reformed or fired. And since when is ignorance of the law an excuse - it´s not and the cops should be deeply ashamed for even trying that angle.

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Reply 13 - Posted by: 100percenttexan, 7/27/2014 9:32:24 AM     (No. 9941854)

A couple of things come to mind in relation to this.
First, If he has been arrested 3 times for legally filming police in the performance of their public duties then the police department and the city of Austin have violated the federal RICO statutes which require 3 predicate acts to establish. RICO allows for treble damages.
Second: If the officers knew that what he was doing was legal (which the Judge says they should) and they arrested him anyway then they have committed the criminal act of "Official Oppression Under The Color Of Law". He can and should ask the Travis County D.A. to file criminal charges against the officers.

I believe in the rule of law and that means those that enforce the law must abide by the law.

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Reply 14 - Posted by: wilko, 7/27/2014 9:33:06 AM     (No. 9941856)

I have never been assaulted by a cop, stopped for no reason or questioned, or had my dog shot, had my door broken in, been accused of a crime I didn´t commit, Tased, pepper sprayed,handcuffed.......
I´m a law abiding citizen and if you read the news, all cops are on the take, bullys, sociopaths,liars...etc. I reject that completely. Our police officers for the most part are just like you and me, they have families, they go to church, they want the society we live in to be a safe place.
I encourage ride-alongs to meet the men and women we entrust with our safety. It´s free and it helps us better understand who and what they are.

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Reply 15 - Posted by: HPmatt, 7/27/2014 9:47:50 AM     (No. 9941882)

Police Chiefs (to use a non-PC term) should obey the law and FIRE officers that cross the line in trying to prevent taping of their actions. Citizens shouldn´t be in the middle of the police business, but the 1A is not the 10A - it is FIRST of the Amendments for that reason, just as it is followed by the 2A regarding Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

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Reply 16 - Posted by: mc squared, 7/27/2014 11:33:00 AM     (No. 9942017)

#14; I wish I´d been able to film a cop at a bridge crossing years ago.

A gate wouldn´t rise after I paid my toll and after several minutes a surely cop showed up and started to bark at me that I wasn´t in NJ anymore and told me to shut up. He was walking around my car telling me that ´we´ were always pulling ´stuff´ like this and he took out his handcuffs and approached me. My elderly mom and pop were in the car and he barked at them too, lest he arrest all of us.

After several more minutes he raised the gate and let us pass.

Cops aren´t just like you and me. They have to power to harass and arrest for any imagined slight.

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Reply 17 - Posted by: enuf8, 7/27/2014 12:09:29 PM     (No. 9942044)

The writer of this article misstated facts.
The police were at the gas pumps as was the woman they abused. Bueller was across the street. He was capturing their actions by his cell phone but what brought him to his attention was the fact he was defending the woman and saw how the cops manhandled her which was nothing more than police brutality. The writer also failed to mention he had just returned from active duty in Afghanistan where he was a decorated serviceman.

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Reply 18 - Posted by: Rivetjoint, 7/27/2014 1:05:02 PM     (No. 9942101)

Cops in NJ are very well paid, around $100,000 plus OT in many cases. The urban cops earn less while the cops out in the well-to-do suburbs do very well and get to drive around sealed off from the citizenry in their cruisers with little to do but prey on wayward out-of-towners. A recent survey of places for road trips in the USA listed NJ as eighth from the bottom. No wonder, as with 565 municipalities, and many having their own police force, the state is simply crawling with the constabulary. As someone mentioned above, Princeton, NJ comes to mind with a police presence that seems way too much. As for the dangers of the job, it doesn´t appear the top ten of US occupations.

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