Perusing the weekly email I get from Time magazine about their Top 10 stories of the week, I found their number one story to be particularly interesting. Entitled "Should Videotaping the Police Really Be a Crime?" the article uses the case of one Anthony Graber down in Maryland who videotaped an unorthodox traffic stop by gun-wielding Maryland state trooper Joseph D. Uhler back in March and now faces up to 16 years for violating the state's wiretapping law to answer the title's question. Skip to the 3:00 minute mark of the video for the relevant police officer on videotape.
I'll make this short because I'm on the BoltBus to Boston and my right elbow is getting rugburn from typing in these cramped quarters. Videotaping cops should never be illegal. Wiretapping laws apply to private conversations (it is the audio of the videotape that prosecutors look to portray as criminal) and everything a public servant does in their capacity as a public servant is inherently public. Get paid with taxpayer money? Those same taxpayers have every right to videotape what you do on their dime.
If public servants have a problem with being subject to scrutiny by the public, then they are clearly in the wrong profession. If a police officer tells you that it's illegal to videotape them, they're wrong. But the problem is that they have the power to arrest, even if you are doing nothing illegal, and this intimidates most people into putting the camera away. Police officers should have no problem being videotaped all day everyday on the job, unless, of course, they're doing something wrong.