Cops and cameras, a debate.

Continuing the discussion began earlier this week when a cop was filmed getting lucky to the second film where we have a cop using a taser on a mentally disabled man, now we have a debate going about whether cops should be filmed and how this film should be used or interpreted. As stated before, filming cops in action prevents gross abuses of authority but also potentially endangers cops by biasing the viewer against them even though their actions may be totally legitimate within the context of the scenario, the fullness of which is often not depicted on these hand-shot videos. This brings us to the story of Tamara Medley, a Philadelphia woman who was arrested by cops and continually had her head beat into the side of a police cruiser, begging them to stop. This caught the attention of passersby who began filming the situation with their cellphone cameras. Now here is where things get a little totalitarian and scary. Rather than finish with their supposedly legitimate police work concerning Ms. Medley, the officers turned on the two filming the incident, Shakir Riley and Melissa Hurling, and beat Shakir with a baton, poured sode on his face and destroyed his cellphone. They arrested Hurling and charged each with disorderly conduct even though it is legal in Philadelphia to film police while on duty.  In stomping on Riley’s phone the cops claimed they did so because it was a federal offense to film them. Excuse me? In what twisted sense of logic is that permissible? This isn’t a third world country, this is happening right here in the United States. I’m sure I know why cops feel so empowered to act this brazenly: unions. Which brings me to the differences between police and military servicemen and women: it is nearly impossible to get a cop fired, but you can get your ass canned in a heartbeat if you are defending the whole country rather than a few blocks. What enables cops to totally disregard any sense of democracy or freedom when servicemen and women put their lives on the line and can be dismissed for even the slightest infraction? Union agreements. I understand a tribal mentality. I understand wanting to protect the herd. At the same time, I understand that we live in a first world society that prides itself on various individual freedoms. Now as to whether or not Ms. Medley deserved to be arrested, etc., is not the point of this article; rather, my point here is how terrifying is it to have a cop destroy your personal property and then degrade you publicly for merely filming them? This is called an asshole. This is called someone who needs to be fired. I know real cops, they don’t act like this. This behavior reminds me of the kind of cops and crucial civil servants who just fled from New Orleans when the going got tough for Katrina. I want everyone to respect and honor the job cops do but I have to request they start getting rid of people who exhibit such disturbing behavior. The risk is too great, too many innocents get killed and all the while, the internet simmers. You don’t think this country could one day be like Egypt? Syria? Hell, the Soviet Union? When civil society collapses, those who abused the citizenry will be meted out the greatest punishments. It would be unfortunate for our public to lose confidence in law enforcement as the public in those aforementioned nations did. We pride ourselves on being a nation of law and order, but we are also a nation of civilized people. Smashing someone’s phone doesn’t make me think you’re doing something legitimate, it makes me think you’ve been caught then proceeded to abuse authority. If you donate to local law enforcement organizations, demand better. You, your towns and cities and this whole country stand for and deserve much better than the Gestapo.

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