Politics Rochester

Emily Good: A Word on Cameras, in General

Its probably easier to assume that anybody you come into contact with has a camera on them than to wonder. Every phone takes photos and videos these days, and your entire world is potentially being video taped.

Which makes privacy laws concerning video pretty impossible to enforce. This is important in the context of the Emily Good incident because it may well be the “secret” taping of the officer that comes into question once this goes to court. Its not supposed to be legal to film people without their consent, but in the context of our modern era, its commonplace.

Its also commonplace for police cruisers to have cameras mounted in their dashes and stop lights to have cameras monitoring them. But there’s no sign that says “this light is being video recorded,” nor am I allowed to ask a video tape of me getting pulled over be erased. Why not? Isn’t that illegal?

Politics Rochester

Emily Good in Rochester: What Happened?

Officer approaches Emily Good, demanding that she stop taping.

Growing up in Wayne County with a lot of bored cops who harrassed kids with long hair, I’m disinclined by nature to side with cops in circumstances such as the big Emily Good news. The video clearly shows the cop arresting a woman who insists that she’s done nothing wrong and is on her own property. And I can’t help noticing the flashlight that is pointed directly at the camera, which seems at first blush to be intentionally blinding the camera.

But while we’re waiting on context, here’s a few things to consider:

  1. Someone took the camera phone off Emily after she was arrested, and there were certainly plenty of people watching. How many? One person on her own property is one thing, but a crowd milling around the cops might be provocative. In fairness, though, he should expect a crowd in a neighborhood, regardless.
  2. What happened before the camera rolled? How did her friend end up getting in trouble in the first place? And where?
  3. Cop says she said something to him *before* she started taping. What?
  4. Cop is not in a position to give “orders” on her own property.
  5. Cop says he’s, “Not going to explain myself.” That’s sorta his job, isn’t it?

Late Update: @rachbarnhart just posted video of Emily Good protesting in another context to her Twitter feed. And Johnathan Turley, Constitutional law professor and MSNBC contributor, also picks up the story.


Texting and Driving: Its Just Distracted Driving

The Democrat and Chronicle has a new article up about the frustrations local law enforcement has had with the new texting while driving law that went into effect this past November. The trouble, they say, is that the law requires “secondary enforcement,” meaning they have to pull you over for something else in order to enforce this particular law.

Here’s the question I’d like someone in journalism to ask someone in law enforcement: why did we need this law in the first place when there is already an ordinance against the much more generic “distracted driving”? I’m not saying it is or isn’t necessary: I’m asking why.

It seems like with every new technology, we go through this need to pass a specific law against it, when it seems like distraction is generic enough to allow lots of things to qualify. Even my (gulp) penchant for drumming and singing while driving – I won’t even stop because you’re looking at me! – could qualify under some definitions.

Maybe that law has been abolished. Maybe a new law that is as generic needs to replace all these crap laws. But it seems to me that splitting hairs like this is no good for anybody. I dunno, just my uninformed Sunday rant, I suppose.