Allow me to expand a bit on Eric Hartley’s story in the Review-Journal about Henderson’s short-lived policy prohibiting him from taking pen and paper with him to watch police dash-cam videos.
Eric quoted me accurately, but of course he didn’t include everything I said. Like, ‘This is bull—-.’
I doubled down on my reaction when I read the city’s response:
A city spokesman, Bud Cranor, said Henderson was trying to balance public access with individual privacy.
“You’re viewing a record of an incident that is going to involve sensitive information that is not public, things involving private citizens at moments when the police are involved in their lives for some reason,” Cranor said.
No, these are not private moments — unless the police officer somehow managed to drive his cruiser into your living room.
And, believe me, if the cruiser is parked in the living room, that’s a video we all want to see.
These are not police body-cam videos. These are dash-cam videos.
There may, indeed, be privacy issues involving body-cam videos, which is why I am willing to consider some reasonable compromises. One of those is the ability by the public to view a raw video without necessarily getting a copy. That’s where the discussions over privacy, redaction and copying start.
But to bar people from taking notes — and did Eric mention they wouldn’t allow him to pause, rewind or fast-forward the video? — is not only silly, it’s totally counter to the whole concept here.
The reason we want to see for ourselves is to be as accurate as possible. No second-hand accounts. No selective memory.
But what happens if a reporter watches video without taking notes? He then spends the next 15 minutes jotting down everything he remembers — as best he can.
What always bothers me most about policies like this, no matter how short-lived, is the notion among some bureaucrats that government is best-suited to protect your privacy.
Whatever it is, it stopped being private when government collected it. What they’re really saying is, they’re the ones with access to your secrets and they don’t like to share.