Officers of the Weare Police Department do not like to be video-recorded, audio-recorded or photographed. In fact if recorded, they will arrest those who do without permission.
Since October of 2010, three people have been arrested by the Weare Police on felony wiretapping charges because individuals did not obtain consent from officers being videotaped. Do people ever ask for permission? Yes, in fact they do. Do police officers consent? I know of no instance.
Police Cruisers, Booking Areas and the appurtenances of Police buildings often have video equipment installed and operating. Irony. Looking at 570-A:2, II (j), there is a legal exception for a, “uniformed law enforcement officer to make an audio recording in conjunction with a video recording of a routine stop performed in the ordinary course of patrol duties on any way as defined by RSA 259:125, provided that the officer shall first give notification of such recording to the party to the communication.”
So, the law states that police can video traffic stops and no consent is required, but a mere giving of notice to the person being stopped. But, it seems that some discretion is afforded as to video or not to video.
Free-Staters Carla Gericke and William Rodriguez, were arrested in March 2010 after Gericke began videotaping a police traffic stop. Weare Police subsequently assert that dashboard cameras were not operating the night of Gericke’s arrest so videos were unavailable. Attorney Seth Hipple, representing Gericke, Rodriguez and now Alleman, told the UL that Weare police are unable to produce any form of maintenance records substantiating the claim of non-functioning cameras. Gericke’s and Rodriguez’ charges were subsequently dropped.
Weare Police Officers are public servants. Each officer draws his or her earnings from the Weare town taxpayers. Moreover, there is a notion here in New Hampshire as there is in any other state, that government is accountable and transparent to every member of the public. If these Police Officers are acting appropriately in the conduct of their duties, there should be no need for concern when citizens videotape them doing their jobs.
What do these officers have to hide? Why was the Gericke/Rodriguez arrest video, “not available?” juxtaposed with the fact that, according to Seth Hipple, Weare Police still have yet to return Gericke’s camera.
Three arrests in a four-month for recording without permission; A camera confiscated following one of those arrests that has not been returned, despite charges being withdrawn; the lack or absence of police dashboard camera video; A reasonable person can easily conclude that the Weare Police Department actively seeks not to have much of their activities documented.
Long overdue is the time for the Legislature to overhaul the taping and wiretapping laws currently causing these arrests. We as a society should find it absolutely intolerable that police oppression is taking place for no other reason than for ordinary citizens creating a record of supposedly “routine” police activities. How does any police department anywhere expect to curry the support, confidence and respect of the very citizens it serves if they seek to act in secret?CROSS POSTED