Anaheim Gets Its First Cop Block!

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It looks like Anaheim got its very first entry on citizen vigilante website Cop Block.

Not so fast though--it does not concern the Anaheim Police Department, which sees at least a half dozen people demonstrating against deadly excessive force in front of their department every Sunday afternoon. 

Instead, the beef appears to be with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
CopBlock.org describes itself as "a decentralized project supported by a diverse group of individuals united by their shared goal of police accountability."

Contributor Pete Eyre wrote an introduction to the entry submitted by user jpcfourth, who had this to say about what he saw: 

On April 10th, 2012 around 4:00pm PST, a search was conducted on the cross-streets of Dale and Lola in Anaheim, CA. I had been hearing a chopper buzzing around my neighborhood, and had a feeling something was up. Instinctively I decided to investigate. I followed the streets down to what seemed to be the center of where the chopper had been circling, and low-and-behold, something large was taking place. I pulled out my camera after several police vehicles came into view. All the way down Lola Ave. were several police vehicles from Orange County Sheriff's Department, Anaheim PD, Stanton PD, as well as several unmarked police units.

Police are increasingly being filmed by concerned citizens as they perform anything from routine traffic stops to walking down the street. While it's great that citizen journalists are able to film law enforcement in action, their reporting work would be more compelling if, for example, it provided evidence of actual wrongdoing by police.

In the video, deputies standing near their patrol cars appear to ignore the videographer's request for identification. However, it's unclear exactly what is happening onscreen. Is it an illegal search of a home, as the user implies? Or are the officers engaging in a crime scene investigation? 

Using what would be within his constitutional rights to film police, as a U.S. Court of Appeals in Massachusetts ruled last year, the videographer continued to film OC's finest until he was told to step away. 

The OC Copwatcher said the officer  "immediately refused with an attitude, as well as the intimidation tactic of corralling. The officer went so far as to stepping [sic] on my toes (although it didnt [sic] hurt, any unwanted contact as a method of intimidation is legally considered assault). I immediately attributed this to "Napoleon Bonaparte Complex", a short, fat dude with a temper to look like a tough guy in front of his larger gang affiliates."

It's no shocker that the OC Copwatch contributor is actually a newbie at filming law enforcement, as he admits in comment thread on another entry posted earlier today. 
Best of luck, Mr. OC Copwatcher. Hopefully you come up with something that highlights several of the police abuses that the Weekly has uncovered over the years. 

And one final word of advice? Even though filming police is a necessary and constitutional right, perhaps we would be served better by citizen journalists who don't call a police officer "dick" on camera, as the videographer does at 11:00, assuming you're still awake that far into the clip.





The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) gives these tips to citizens who film police

When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society.

When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).

Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them). 

Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances. 

Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them. 

Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example, if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass.

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