The Instigator
Danielle
Pro (for)
Winning
35 Points
The Contender
Volkov
Con (against)
Losing
17 Points

Recording interaction with police officers should not be against the law.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 12 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/13/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,136 times Debate No: 13140
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (12)

 

Danielle

Pro

Many thanks to my opponent in advance for accepting this debate.

The idea for this challenge stems from a forum topic discussing the same issue: whether or not one is within their legal rights - or should be within their legal rights - to record interaction between civilians and police officers. As it stands, over a dozen states prohibit at least audio recording - if not both audio and video. In fact, many people have been arrested, charged and prosecuted with crimes for recording the police interacting either with others and/or themselves. The PRO advocacy is one in favor of personal freedom, while the CON presumably will defend the law's right to keep certain information private for safety and security reasons.

With that said, I'll allow my opponent to make any notes he feels helpful in the first round, and I will begin my opening arguments in R2. Thank you again to my esteemed opponent in advance for accepting, and good luck in what I hope will be a challenging and interesting debate!
Volkov

Con

Thanks to Lwerd for broaching this interesting and controversial topic, and one that I'm sure will lead to a fantastic debate.

I only have one thing to clarify: I've never stated that it should be completely illegal to record interactions, but that it can present a very dangerous and disruptive thing for law enforcement to handle. I take the position that restrictions are not unreasonable in order to protect both the officer's privacy and law enforcement's integrity, but that to make it completely illegal is more than a tad extreme. There are much easier ways of enforcing these restrictions while maintaining the ability for citizens to record any crimes committed by police officers and have that admitted as evidence in court or to the media. However, if need be, for this argument I will argue for full illegality.

Possibly not important, but I certainly believe is, as knowing someone's motivations for arguing for a certain position. So if I seem not to be taking "farging people taking picture of the cops" to heart, you'll know why.

Another thing to clarify is that I don't have a very large amount of time to devote to DDO during the afternoons this week, but hopefully we can wrap up this debate by Wednesday, when it'll matter.

Anyways, I look forward to an interesting debate. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
Danielle

Pro

Thanks, Volkov.

To begin this debate, I'd like to start by first examining the negative position before segueing into my own. In a recent forum, my opponent has cited 4 reasons for his advocacy in not allowing interaction with police officers to be recorded:

1) Cops will be unnecessarily scrutinized
2) Cops need to react to a situation quickly
3) Cops already have a lot of restrictions
4) Everyone need not be a journalist

These are the statements Con should be held accountable for defending [1].

Indeed Con is not the only one to hold this position; many officials have defended laws that prohibit recording cops noting similar reasons of precaution and safety. However the laws prohibiting audio recording are actually eavesdropping and wiretap laws that were designed to protect private conversations. So the question becomes: what is private and what is not? This distinction further becomes unclear when you consider the fact that the government can legally record citizens (so why not the other way around?).

Let's look at Con's first point. He notes that the problem of recording is that cops will then be judged for their actions, no matter how justified. Of course I see no problem with this and in fact regard it as a good thing. If a situation arises and a cop reacts in accordance to his or her training, then his action is *justified* and he has no reason to fear this law. Now, Con's response will presumably be that the government uses the same excuse (that only wrong-doers need worry) when justifying the privacy invasion of citizens through cameras and other means. I negate. I contend that the comparison is far from analogous considering the role and authority that police offers have in society compared to regular citizens.

For instance, if I walked up to a stranger and asked to see his ID, they would probably look at me and tell me to bugger off. However if a PO made the same request, one would typically surrender their ID and follow any other instructions given. Further, if I were to randomly attack someone in the street, people may attempt to jump in or call the police to rectify the situation. However in an instance where a PO was seen in the same circumstance, people's reaction would be a lot different. My point here is this: If you're going to give someone as much power and authority as POs have, then there should be a lot of checks on that power to ensure no rampant abuse - as history shows us that power tends to manifest "power trips" among those with authority [2].

Con's second point was that cops must always be on their toes, and not have to second-guess their actions in life or death situations. However, it logically follows that if one's life was in fact threatened, that reacting accordingly would not warrant any unjust attention or punishment. Due to the risk involved in a profession such as law enforcement, it's reasonable to consider the threats one endures and assess whether or not their reaction was appropriate.

Next, Con points out that cops "already have to worry about restrictions." To me this seems a bit comical. Cops are given far more leeway in their authority than almost any other profession (aside from the military or other government agencies). These 'restrictions' are completely unclear to me. In 2006, numerous cops in plain clothes approached Sean Bell and friends in a car, and shot the three of them over 50 times in a matter of seconds [3]. The officers were found not guilty of any crime. In 1999, completely unarmed Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times by more cops in plain clothes [4]. Again, all officers were found not guilty of any crime. So far history shows us that police can do the most heinous and unjustified things (not necessarily these 2 examples, but in general) and get away with it [2]. So, Con will have to expand on this point and explain to me the "restrictions" cops apparently have to worry about, considering they are typically not held accountable for their crimes.

Finally, Con asks why "everyone has to be a journalist" and report things like this "whether they're justified or not." I'll be frank -- to me this is an absurd question, but one that segues perfectly into the affirmative aspect of this debate. Citizens should be empowered to impose limits on the State by holding them accountable and subject to the same standards of civilians. There are far too many circumstances in which police completely abuse their power and authority! Thanks to recording technology, we have been able to catch a significant number of police acting completely outside their realm of authority to abuse their power and subject citizens to unjust treatment.

One site depicts a cop arresting a Burger King employee because he THINKS she gave him the wrong change. The site also shows a cop threatening to ruin this kids life *by making up charges* after pulling this kid over for parking a suspicious vehicle in a commuter lot. You can also watch a cop knee a 70 year old lady in the forehead [5]. Stories of police brutality or other wrongful prejudice and attacks are NOT few and far between. In fact, a quick Google search or perusal of YouTube details millions of cases. I think almost everyone can recount a bad experience with a police officer.

The bottom line is this: Because cops have so much power and influence in the legal community, ensuring that they're acting in accordance with the power bestowed upon them is paramount to upholding justice. I previously mentioned a cop threatening to make up false accusations that could literally ruin a young person's life. This is criminal and officers like this need to be caught and punished. The only way to gain proof of these acts is to record it. A "he said, she said" situation with a cop usually ALWAYS winds up in the cop's favor, making tangible evidence not only an asset but a requirement if you expect results.

Additionally, I noted earlier that these laws were originally derived to protect private conversations. However, if a cop is talking to me, is this a "private conversation?" It seems logical that because I am a part of the conversation, that it does not exclude me from said conversation or the rights to said conversation - including recording it. However one Chicago man was arrested and released on 20,000$ bond simply for recording his own arrest [6]. He is being put on trial for an offense which carries with it a 4-15 year jail time penalty. This makes the eavesdropping law completely baseless considering it's not "eavesdropping" if one is being directly addressed!

Now, considering all of the power an officer has in not only using discretion to determine if an arrest is necessary or not (consider, for example, the Burger King case I mentioned) but the fact that cops can and do assault people in the process of these arrests signifies that recording should be an option when you factor in how many times the events that took place either directly prior to or during the arrest have an impact in the ultimate court case that ensue.

When my ex was bludgeoned by officers, the plethora of pictures of her black-and-blued body taken directly after the incident were not enough to incriminate the cops because there was no proof that the bruises were from them. Had evidence been allowed to be submitted (without fear of further punishment), she could have proven her case and had the officers appropriately disciplined. However without permissible evidence, there is no way to get these cops punished. Cops' word always have greater weight.

I'm out of characters for now, but I greatly look forward to further proving my case in the upcoming rounds.

Back to you, Volkov!

[1] http://tinyurl.com...
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
[3] http://tinyurl.com...
[4] http://tinyurl.com...
[5] http://tinyurl.com...
[6] http://tinyurl.com...
Volkov

Con

I'd like to thank Lwerd for a fortwith response, mostly because its given me something to do at work tonight!

To start off, I'd like to address Pro's first attack on my "positions."

Pro essentially states that police officers are to be scrutinized for every action that they commit by the regular citizen, due in part to the deference they're paid because of their authority, and because that it is a way to keep such police officers accountable.

While this sounds good in theory, in practice it leaves much to be desired, because the entire idea that Pro has built her argument on this point, and indeed the entire debate, around, accountability, seems to be a one-way street.

The problem with this form of "accountability" coming from Joe Citizen is that there is no ability to make them accountable in reverse. Indeed, with today's technology, there is little to no available means except outright illegality to control the use of these devices for recording purposes during police interactions. Why is this important? Because with Joe Citizen's ability to record any time, any where, police are going to be subject to that person's biases, positive or negative, and the fact that such personal media can be transmitted to people everywhere, including to criminal sources which will use such information to their advantage. This is not a random theory, either - criminals are using the internet in increasing ways to get around the police[1].

Given the fact that police officers will have no effective ability to keep those with personal recording devices from committing such acts except to stop them on-the-spot, it seems highly questionable to allow Joe Citizen to keep police officers accountable - something I support - when there is no way to keep them accountable if they themselves break the law and jeopardize officer's safety and ability to keep the peace.

The second point that Pro contests is the question of whether or not police officers would be hampered by the knowledge that they were being recorded; Pro, obviously, answers that it is an irrelevant question, as officers in such a situation should not have to act outside of their own respective boundaries, and if they do, should be able to justify such actions whether or not they're recorded.

A fair, if misguided answer to this important point; the question, however, is not whether the officers can explain themselves in these situations - no doubt they can if their actions are justified - but whether the officers will feel safe to do them at all. Indeed, and my opponent must agree, something that hampers an officer's ability to make quick decisions on their feet is something that should be looked at with a very skeptical eye as to whether or not it should even be there! Fear is a highly motivating factor in every decision a person makes, and officers do not have the security of knowing whether or not their actions will get accolades or boos. Adding another pressure to the situation, with cameras rolling, is not necessarily a good idea in an uncontrolled environment.

The third point my opponent notes is that she doesn't know the many regulations and restrictions that govern actions that police officers take out on a beat, during operations, and even during their off-duty periods[2]. The majority of officers follow these rules, and the violators out there that don't should be dealt with, I agree. However, how lacking knowledge on police regulations, and pointing out that bad people exist is an argument, I have no idea.

The fourth point my opponent addresses is one dear to my heart - citizen journalism. My opponent has wildly misrepresented my position on this, though not necessarily by her own fault - clarity is something that should always come with a statement like the one I made.

My entire point of mentioning the citizen journalism aspect of this was the fact that it can be quite easily distorted for uses beyond those of Pro's noble crusade for accountability. I need not explain the fact that America's national media is already biased beyond all belief, especially to a Canadian used to relatively unbiased public broadcasting. Those biases are in fact bred and fed by the opinions of everyday people, and people seek to exploit this. Notably, people like Andrew Breitbart, or those guys who tapped a sitting Senator's phone lines[3], who try and build a career out of it.

The point is this: citizen journalism is fine, and I support it, as clearly does my opponent. But citizen journalism has its positives, and its clear negatives - one of them being that information can be easily distorted to not only change contexts and situations, but often maliciously so, for whatever reason. Police officers, who are to remain impartial and trusted among their respective communities as keepers of the peace, are undermined by the actions of quite a few people who hold the view that officers, no matter their intentions, no matter their standing, and no matter their actions, are basically the scourge of the Earth. Officers, who by a large majority follow the rules and regulations of their profession, do not need such people having the ability to do so, without accountability or measure.

My opponent's main argument and conclusion is simply as follows: because police officers have authority, and can abuse this authority, citizens should have means of holding to account police officers. Personal recording devices give citizens the means, and should therefore be legally allowed to record during police interactions.

And you know what - I agree with her, or at least her sentiment that police officers must be held accountable. That is an obvious no-brainer, and one that is hard to argue against. But the caveat that recording technology is an acceptable means of achieving those ends is, simply put, wrong.

My opponent cites cases, and how in the aftermath the evidence that was provided, photographic evidence of bruises, was not sufficient, and how if a recording device were present, and the user could record without any fear of punishment, the evidence would have been sufficient to win the case. However, not only does my opponent not know whether or not it would have made a difference, indeed it's an almost irrelevant point to bring up, as recording devices were not present anyways. Even in a hypothetical situation where devices could have been present, and recording was fully legal, would those recording still not fear some reprisal? If the police officer's authority and discretion is so great, would it really make a difference whether it was legal or not?

Indeed, when you get right down to it, the question isn't whether or not recording the will make a difference, but whether or not the police should have that kind of authority at all.

Do not confuse my position with that of someone who is against First Amendment rights, as stipulated in your Constitution - I fully support your ability to think, do, and say what you please. But like any civil right, it is dependent upon your ability to do so without harmful consequences to other individuals and the public at-large. The ability to record police interactions, whether or not it is in a justified situation with clear-cut abuse, is not necessarily a neutral action; while you may be able to punish abusers, you will also punish those who do not. While you may hold police accountable, the police may not be able to hold those with malicious purposes accountable. And while you may think you're doing the community a service, you may in fact be undermining law enforcement's ability to connect and protect the community they're in.

Thank you to Lwerd, and I hope to continue this debate further, as I have much more to say!

Sources:

1. http://bit.ly...
2. http://bit.ly...
3. http://bit.ly...
Debate Round No. 2
Danielle

Pro

Thanks, Volkov.

1. Re: With Joe Citizen's ability to record any time, police are going to be subject to biases.

I've explained that police being subject to scrutiny is a good thing. As detailed in the last round, police have a tough gig and mistakes will be made; that's the nature of the job. However, because of their rampant authority, being allowed to record their interaction with others can help establish the guilt or innocence of people who may be wrongly abused, arrested or incriminated by law enforcement.

Without this protection, our rights are greatly inhibited considering in a court of law their word vs. an ordinary citizen's without evidence is almost *always* upheld; Con did not argue contrary. Without being able to submit tangible evidence, a dirty agent could continue abusing their power and manipulating the system, which can have detrimental effects on the community and an individual's life. As such, this protection far outweighs any negative of people merely scrutinizing the police.

Just as some families have chosen to install "Nanny Cams" to ensure their child is protected while they're away, people have a right to protect themselves from tyrannical law. Similarly, business owners can install cameras to minimize theft and robbery and protect their property; why can't people do the same to protect theirs (person)?

2. Re: Criminals are using the internet in increasing ways to get around the police

If you check out Con's source, it details organized crime personnel in Italy using Skype as a way to avoid being wiretapped. This, of course, has nothing to do with the resolution. Their use of Skype would continue whether or not police were legally able to be recorded. Here, the only evidence Con could possibly present in his favor includes proof that recording POs has had severely detrimental results, or led to criminals tampering with police investigations. Con has not presented evidence of this nature, so we have no reason to assume that recording interaction with a cop would in any way negatively effect police business.

Criminals are using technology to get around the police? Sure, it's been happening for ages. What has that got to do with anything? How would recording an officer arrest you, arrest another, or interact with someone in general aid in criminal activity? At best you could argue a direct transmission of data to a criminal, but again that's unlikely and seemingly unuseful.

I expect Con to explain how this is possible or likely instead of committing the base rate fallacy (using weak evidence to make a probability judgment without taking into account known empirical statistics about the probability). Again, if I am pulled over, and I record the cop talking to me, asking for my license and registration, etc., how is that harming anything or anyone? Even in a more hostile situation, I don't see how it's relevant.

3. Re: There is no way to keep citizens accountable if they break the law, or jeopardize an officer's safety and ability to keep the peace.

It's definitely possible to punish a citizen who abuses this right. If someone is using Skype for criminal activity like in Con's example, then of course they should be punished. Similarly, if someone is using recording police for criminal activity, they should be punished too. However saying because people *might* do this that it's a reason to keep this illegal is absurd. That's like saying alcohol should be illegal because people *might* drink and drive. We've long disposed of that backwards and futile ideology; we know it's better to entrust people with restrictions, and this is one of those cases. Also, this negates Con's own contention. He says it's not fair to record cops because they MIGHT be bad, and then says we shouldn't be able to record because CITIZENS *might* be bad. Not only is this hypocritical, but I've explained how cops being abusive is far more dangerous and likely.

4. Re: POs may not feel safe to act a particular way, which could endanger their lives.

Should an officer have "felt safe" to open fire on an unarmed man? I advocate that cops feel TOO SAFE to engage in any behavior they please without fear of reprimand. As an example, feverish teasingly told Nags that he would report his father (a cop) to the bureau for tampering with police evidence (a joke). However, Nags responded with something along the lines of, "What good would that do - reporting my dad to his friends?"

POs should take the liberty to act in accordance with the training they've been given. If someone opens fire on them, they should fire in return. However I doubt any police have been trained to start shooting first, meaning there's no basis to do so. If their shooting (or other actions) was *truly justified,* then they would not be punished (for instance, the cops were found innocent in Sean Bell's case because the jury did not believe the cops were being intentionally harmful).

Con writes, "Adding another pressure to the situation, with cameras rolling, is not necessarily a good idea in an uncontrolled environment." Again I negate -- police should feel comfortable knowing that if they do make a mistake, recordings of the going-ons can work in their favor to justify their actions. For instance, if they say they shot someone because they thought he was reaching for a gun, and the video shows the suspect reaching for their wallet, this would indeed be a tragedy but one in which police could be forgiven and understood. However in cases like the examples I've given last round, sometimes police act brutally for completely unjustifiable reasons. These people need to be caught and punished to maintain the integrity of the law.

5. In the last round, I asked Con to explain the "many regulations" officers suffer from, as he implied, considering I noted how they usually get away with murder (literally). He pointed out that many officers follow rules, but did not expand any further on this point.

5. On the topic of citizen journalism, Con says that it can be dangerous because of the blatant bias that comes with it. I agree. However, simply recording a police officer does NOT impose any bias. In that case, the actions of the officer and his counterpart speak for themselves. Watching a police officer threaten someone is not bias against the police; it's a representation of the cop's actions. Any distortion to video could easily be noted or proven.

6. Con continues to say that many officers are unjustifiably stigmatized because of the actions of a few, and I agree. However, recording police can be used to prove Con right - that most cops are law abiding and fair.

7. My opponent says that he agrees law enforcement should be held accountable given their authority. However, he writes "recording technology is [not] an acceptable means of achieving those ends." In that case, I invite my opponent to explain why, and more importantly, what a better way of achieving those ends would be considering I've detailed precisely why this is the best and most fair way of ensuring integrity.

8. Con writes, "If the PO's authority and discretion is so great, would it really make a difference whether [recording] was legal or not?" Absolutely. If a cop acted wrongly, he'd be held accountable by co-workers and superiors, who would in turn be held accountable by their co-workers and superiors, as well as the public. If Officer Joe was recorded beating an old lady for no reason, and that was posted on YouTube, there would be a public demand for punishment, and this would be an incentive to minimize police abuse.

9. Con concludes by saying that this act could effectively hurt innocent parties. I contend that no sufficient evidence to draw this conclusion has been established, and that this would be a minimal risk. On balance, being allowed to record police would have the most benefits in terms of protecting society and our rights and safety.
Volkov

Con

Thank you for your quick response, Lwerd.

1.

My opponent seems to have missed the point presented; while I make no claims to the contrary that there exists police abuse out there, my point is that giving Joe Citizen a camera may not lead to the proper use of such video as my opponent describes, in a court of law to catch these abusers.

Much like the "nanny cam" example my opponent gave, unless a crime is actually committed, what purpose is there to it? Given that nanny cams have also been used to violate privacy in voyeur cases, there clearly is many alternative uses for nanny cames that may not quite fall under my opponent's consent. This is the same issue that comes with recording interactions with the police; what is actually right, and what is blatantly a violation of privacy and protection?

2.

My source, if Pro had followed along as intended, was to demonstate the fact that the internet has given criminal networks a completely new tool to affect police operations - nothing more, nothing less.

Moving on, the entire idea has been this: the internet, modern mass media, and other things allows people with a certain bias to do what they will with whatever they have, regardless of the consequences it can create. My point has been that police - also people too - are going to be subjected to unnecessary stress caused by videos that scrutinize actions, or just plainly misrepresent the facts, not to mention the privacy concerns, recognized already by courts, for which much of the current laws in place are based on[1].

3.

My opponent forgets that, going with her example, in order to stop many drinking and driving cases, there has been a major campaign, supported by police, to stop inebriated drivers from even getting into a car - stopping the problem before it becomes one, because how do we know they won't kill someone?

The same is true with recording the police; without the benefit of hindsight, we don't know what their actions will lead to. My opponent wants to punish those that breach this right; so, like drunk driving, is it not better to stop it before it even happens? I'm not talking about illegalizing recording devices, here, any more than I'd advocate illegalizing alcohol - just that we need to stop a problem, like drunk driving, from occuring before it even happens.

4.

Aside from the amusing noting of using Nags as a source, my opponent misses the point.

She says police should feel comfortable - they don't. Several officers have testified to this fact[2]. In a study done by a British organization, interviewing police officers who were being recorded by Britain's extensive CCTV system (their own recording system, nonetheless!), the report found "... When asked whether the introduction of surveillance cameras had affected their work, themajority of police officers interviewed initially responded by stating that the presence of CCTV had not had any impact on the way in which they carried out their duties or exercised their powers.... When pressed on the issue of how CCTV had affected their behaviour on the streets, however, over two-thirds of the officers interviewed conceded that the introduction of cameras had forced them to be ‘more careful' when out on patrol. 10 Some, for example, had heard stories of officers being prosecuted for unlawful arrest or assault on the basis of CCTV evidence, stories that had left them anxious about being watched and the possibility of their own activities being scrutinised. Others, particularly younger officers, found being under constant surveillance made them nervous and uncomfortable."

The very same report also has officers praising this, and also has officers saying that they're afraid of actions being "misrepresented," apparently a very common concern among officers. Clearly, an issue exists, even if my opponent says it shouldn't.

5(a).

My opponent didn't look through my source, then.

5(b).

This issue was addressed above; recording, like drinking, may not lead to misrepresentative video or drunk driving, but without benefit of hindsight, we don't know - hence why preventative measures should be in place.

6.

Again, above.

7.

My opponent should note that I said that with exceptions; recording technology, and the ability to record officers willy-nilly for whatever reason, is not an effective way of keeping police accountable. It can, no doubt about that - and those incidents should be protected under law. But, related to the next point, even if recording has been made illegal, the video survives, as it must still be used in court as evidence of any crime being committed; for those officers truly worried about their actions and being charged, it doesn't matter if it is illegal or not, as they will try to stop it anyways.

8.

My opponent missed the point; the issue is whether or not officers who are truly bent on doing harm would tolerate video recording anyways, whether it was legal or not. The common sense answer is a plain no; if an officer wants to make good on any threat, he will, and would most likely dispose of any video recording, or audio, or whatever, anyways. Under the current laws in place, the recording survives still as evidence of a crime being committed - meaning that, officers doing wrong or right being recorded must maintain the integrity of that recording in order for any charge to come up. Officers wanting to do harm, do not.

9.

In conclusion, again, my opponent has not refuted my positions effectively. Recording the police in abusive situations is fantastic - but if its not happening, why should Joe Citizen be able to unnerve officers, misrepresent facts, and have free will to violate officers privacy? It makes little sense, and I urge a vote for CON.

Thank you, and good luck in the last round, L.

Sources:

1. http://www.citmedialaw.org...
2. http://www.surveillance-and-society.org...
Debate Round No. 3
Danielle

Pro

Thanks, Volkov.

1. Re: With citizen recordings, cops are subject to bias.

A) Unless a crime is actually committed, what purpose is there to it?

----> Knowing that they're being recorded acts as a deterrent against police brutality. If an officer knows he's going to be held accountable for his actions, he's far more likely to abide by the law.

B) Recording violates privacy

----> There is no violation if they know they're being recorded. It would be obvious to gauge from the tape if they knew they were or not. I would even go so far as to say that hidden cams should be allowed, so long as cops realize they *can possibly* be recorded at any time. However, I don't have to defend that here -- just that recording in general should be permissible.

2. Re: Criminals are using technology to get around police.

----> To re-state exactly what I said in the last round, Con has not presented any evidence that recording cops has or could tamper with police investigations or have detrimental results. How would recording an officer interact with you or another aid criminal activity? At best you could argue a direct transmission of data to a criminal, but again that's unlikely and seemingly unuseful. If I record a cop talking to me, how is that harming anyone? Even in a more hostile situation, I don't see how it's relevant. Con has ignored this whole rebuttal and just repeats that people use the internet for crime, which as I said is nothing new, unusual, or even relevant to this discussion.

However Con did elaborate (repeat) that police are going to be subject to:

A) Bias

----> I've said in the last round, "Simply recording a police officer does NOT impose any bias. The actions of the officer speak for themselves. Watching a PO threaten someone is not bias; it's a true representation of the cop's actions. Any distortion to video could easily be noted or proven." Instead of responding to these contentions, Con just repeats the fact that officers will be subject to bias completely ignoring my rebuttal explaining contrary.

B) Stress caused by videos that misrepresent facts

----> Once again, there's no reason for police to be stressed about possibly being recorded -- especially if the law becomes such that they must know they're being recorded. I've explained how it's easy to prove whether or not a cop was aware of this. Why should they be stressed if they follow protocol, and the tape can verify them acting as such? I've explained that this could be HELPFUL to the cops. Moreover, I've explained in my last point how facts will not be misrepresented and in fact confirmed.

C) Privacy concerns

----> I've already explained how this is BS. I notice Con never answered my question about how recording my conversation with a cop violates his right to privacy when in fact he is addressing me... hmm. Also, why is the cops's privacy paramount vs. our right to protect ourself against a monopoly (tyranny) of law enforcement which always favors another officer's word?

3. Re: There is no way to keep citizens accountable if they compromise the law or officer's safety.

----> Once again, I've explained how recording POs will probably not be harmful in any way! Remember that Con never gave us one example of how this could be a bad thing. His only contention, being subject to bias, has been negated and explained how in fact recording can eliminate any hostility toward cops in a questionable situation (unless, of course, they're actually guilty in which case recording would be a good thing!). If not, recording can validate a cop's story. In short though, Con's point about not being able to punish citizens has been negated, and that's probably why he changed the topic.

4. Re: POs may not feel safe to act a particular way, which could endanger their lives.

----> Con's source proves my point exactly. He quotes, "Over 2/3 of the officers interviewed conceded that the introduction of cameras had forced them to be ‘more careful' when out on patrol." Great! That's exactly what I want! More careful does not equivocate to less safe or more timid. Again, if they accidentally shoot an unarmed man because they thought he was reaching for a gun while he was really reaching for his wallet, nobody's saying being recorded should stop them from acting on their instincts -- in fact, it would validate their reaction. If they believe they're prone to so many mistakes to the point where this would be a problem, then perhaps law enforcement is not for them (and their authority would not benefit society). If "being more careful" translates to being more appropriate, I'm all for it.

Con's quote continues to note that some officers were scared because they heard other cops were being prosecuted for unlawful arrest. I think this is perfect! Police should NOT be arresting people unlawfully! This once again validates the point that cops would think twice before acting against society and abusing their power. Also, n00b cops being anxious about this proves absolutely nothing considering n00b cops are going to be anxious no matter what, just as we all are with new jobs and especially when we're being recorded regardless of what that job is. Cops saying things will be "misrepresented" is completely false as I've explained. Further, cops being against this is totally irrelevant considering ANYONE would vote against being recorded at a new job.

5A. ----> Con's source is comical. It's titled "police regulations" but details more about what being a cop entails (i.e. how to be promoted, maternity pay, issues of retirement, etc.) rather than what cops stress out over from the job. In short, being expected to follow the rules is not a negative added stress. It should be of utmost importance and concern and at the forefront of their conscious while working.

5B. ----> Extend my argument of no possible bias.

6. ----> Extend my point that recording can be used to prove that most cops are law abiding and fair.

7A. ----> First, Con admits that recording can protect people against cop abuse and notes "those incidents should be protected under law." However, if recording is all-together illegal, how can this be protected under law? This is seemingly contradictory.

7B. ----> Con says if recording is illegal, but video survives, "it must still be used in court as evidence of any crime being committed." I'm not sure what he is talking about here; if recording is illegal than this would be considered inadmissible evidence in any court, meaning proof of police brutality via video is 100% irrelevant to the case. In any case, I asked Con to explain what a better way of achieving those ends (catching police) would be considering I've detailed precisely why this is the best and most fair way of ensuring integrity. Con never responded to this question and can't in the last round.

8. ----> Con says a dirty cop would simply dispose of recorded evidence. First, he may not know he was being recorded. Second, this is unlikely considering it'd probably be easy to prove and he'd get in even more trouble.

9. ----> In conclusion, I pointed out that there was no sufficient evidence to assume innocent people would be hurt from this, and that indeed it's a minimal risk. Con simply repeats that if the cop is not acting wrongfully, there's no reason for recording him (which ignores my arguments regarding deterrence, protection and citizen's rights). He also restates that facts can be misrepresented (negated) and cops' privacy violated (also negated). If cops are given so much power, we have the right to protect ourself from tyranny of that power - especially if there is no evidence that recording is overtly harmful or unnecessarily hinders cops in any way. On balance, legalized recording provides us the best safety and protection of society's rights while emphasizing more trust and integrity regarding law enforcement and their relationship with society.

Thank you.
Volkov

Con

Thank you, Lwerd.

1.

a) As my source in Round 2 had shown, the idea that officers are more likely to "abide by the law" also comes with side effects that hamper job performance.

b) My opponent indeed does have to defend that here. Officers, while public servants, have a right to privacy as much as anyone else. Now, the right to privacy and laws surrounding that are not necessarily limited to just being recorded - it's also how that recording is used. If someone records a police interaction where no abuse occurs and officers are made out to be fools, as some people are prone to try and do, and officers are not aware of this, this is a violation of privacy laws.

2.

My opponent seems to have skipped over a good part of my argument, then. The point has been that videos within the possession of the average citizen have no way of being tracked and stopped if they do indeed contain harmful bias, information, or what have you, until they're on the web. This is why it's important to stop it at the soure; if we can place restrictions on the ability to misrepresent or transmit harmful information at the outset, we can save a whole lot of pain occurring on all sides. I believe this is a valid, important point, and my opponent claiming I've done nothing to back it up is ludicrous.

My opponent also asks why privacy is important versus protecting citizenry from the "tyranny" of law enforcement (obvious bias is bias). To make a point clear, officers are as much the citizenry as citizens are, they're simply those charged with enforcing state laws. While there is an argument to be made over the fact that officers are a "special class" of citizens, the fact remains that their privacy, much as the privacy of myself or my opponent, is protected under various legislation and laws. Just as recording someone while committing a crime is not a violation of privacy, recording a cop during any abuse of their power shouldn't be either; but other times, what is the need?

3.

I addressed this before. I've also demonstrated several times how recording officers can indeed be harmful; my opponent has never countered any way for which to indeed keep citizens accountable for any actions they may take with recordings that aren't necessarily used to stop police abuse. Indeed, she never even addressed it.

4.

If my opponent had read the entirety of the source, she would see it was a mixed blessing; the introduction of CCTV indeed did make officers "more careful," but also ended up intimidating officers and keep them constantly worried about actions that could be misconstrued. It's pretty clear from the outside; officers are prone to be more careful and watch their actions, sure, but at what cost to their job performance? That is what the entire source, and this portion of the debate, has been about.

5a.

Pro mocks my source (completely valid if going through all points, which I had to unfortunately and painstakingly do, because such a complete list has been hard to find on the net), and then claims that following the rules doesn't add stress.

I'm not quite sure what she means by this, as my point simply was that officers are already subject to many, many rules and regulations on their actions. My opponent concedes that following the rules is of the utmost concern, and I agree - so what is the point of contention here? Indeed, my opponent simply concedes that there is an expectation to follow the rules, and by and large officers do - recording will not necessarily change that.

7.

a) My opponen maybe doesn't know, but laws are often contradictory because they're full of exceptions, counter-exceptions, criteria, and judgements. It's not hard to see how a recording penalty should have exceptions, and how the evidence - namely, the recording - must be present at any trial to ensure that either side is simply not making up stories.

b) Again, my opponent possibly doesn't understand how the law works. If an illegal gun is used to kill someone, that gun doesn't become inadmissable because its illegal to use. It's considered evidence, and indeed, the tool used to commit the crime. It's fully admissable in court. Even in brutality cases, exceptions can and are made for such evidence.

As for my opponents other point, I've said time, and time, and time again - there are exceptions to every rule. If officers are recording committing abuse of their power, there should be exceptions to the law. But if not, then really, what is the point? What are the benefits that outweigh the drawback except for people's amusement? My opponent doesn't say, hm.

8. If the officer was unaware of being recorded, then the point is moot, no? Officers can only stop crimes they see. The second point is a little silly; if an officer is really bent on stopping you from recording, either with this law or not, they will.

In conclusion, I'll just say this: I'm not defending a popular position, here. No doubt about it. But I believe I've presented some pretty serious points here, as Pro did as well. The entire, central point though, and my opponent has refused to admit this, is that police officers are people to; they feel the pressures of their job, and have rights under civil code just as the usual citizenry do. There is no doubt they hold a lot more authority than your average citizen, but there are ways to keep this accountable - recording interactions simply is not one of them. I've made and conceded that there should be obvious exceptions to the rule, but my opponent continues forward and says that, no matter what, record officers - even if they aren't doing anything wrong. Even if they're doing something sensitive. Indeed, she wants to sic papparrazzi on the police, more or less, in some valiant crusade against abuse, regardless of what it does to police performance and officer's lives.

All well and fine, but if you prefer a more nuanced, balanced approach, that says brutality should be stopped but privacy and performance should not be put at risk, vote CON.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
Erick just went around v-bombing all my debates in the past hour.
Posted by Volkov 7 years ago
Volkov
Very interesting link, Roy. Thanks for supplying that.

Anyways, I fought valiantly I think, but I won't vote until my opponent does. To point out, as well, while I still believe some of the moral questions are valid, the legal question actually does tip in Pro's favour, though not through anything she mentioned. I can't find the link now, but some lawyers who studied the laws in Mass. found that it didn't really comply with either the letter or the spirit of the law, specifically pertaining to two-party recording laws, as well as the supposed precedent of wiretap laws that was used as justification.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Good debate. I think there is strong presumption in favor of free speech and individual rights, which covers recording, so that Con would have to show a significant harm done y recording. Evidence that would show the harm could include specific cases of miscarriages or justice caused by recording, or polls of police officers showing they hesitated carrying out their duties when there was a threat of recording. I don't think Con provided sufficient evidence. His arguments were too abstract.

Pro's pointing to cases of apparent injustice that were found by courts not to be injustice did not have too much point, as they tended to show that video still left ambiguity. Still, they did help make the case indirectly that it is important to have as much evidence as possible in such cases.

It didn't come up in the debate, but it seems to me that worries of being recorded are a transient concern. As cameras in public places become more common, people worry about them less. Transactions between police and the public have an inherent "public" aspect because the government is presumed to not operate in secrecy without a very good reason.

San Francisco has a new police chief who is, despite the venue, a strong advocate of tough policing. He wants his offices to record every transaction with the public. They would wear a tiny video camera. He claims that this would almost always come down as a benefit to the police, and if it shows the cops did something wrong then that ought to be exposed as well. The system i being tested in nearby San Jose http://www.msnbc.msn.com... I think the Chief has a good point.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
I don't have time to read your last round, Volkov, but I will later!
Posted by Clockwork 7 years ago
Clockwork
A SCOTUS case is ringing a bell in the back of my head. The ruling stated that Nixon couldn't be sued for infractions against the law made while undertaking executive duties. (This wasn't the Watergate case.) The Court stated that the ability for the executive branch to function in the fact of public pressure without fear of legal backlash was necessary to the operation of government. However, the case did make clear that such allowances are only made when the crimes in question were directly relevant to executive duties.
Posted by Atheism 7 years ago
Atheism
Why is this debate not more well-known?
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