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Houston Chief Worried Over Residents Filming Officers

Houston Chief Worried Over Residents Filming Officers

Texas officers Nathan Godfrey, David Schimidt, Abraham Martinez and Boyd Lamb, stand behind yellow tape as authorities investigate the scene where a suspect, who is now deceased, allegedly shot two Liberty County Sheriff's deputies in the Woodland Hills c

The Houston Chronicle via YellowBrix

February 18, 2011

HOUSTON – Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland went on the defensive Thursday during a meeting with local journalists, saying officers have made recent traffic stops in which residents leave their vehicles to take pictures or shoot video — encounters he says could endanger officers and that have increased following the release of the Chad Holley beating footage.

“Officers are telling me that they’re being provoked,” the chief said. “Even when they try to write a simple traffic ticket, people are jumping out with cell phone cameras scanning their badge numbers and their nametags. And I’ve asked them to remain calm and treat people with respect and dignity.”

McClelland said he is concerned that an intensifying anti-police sentiment in the community could increase negative interactions between Houston Police Department officers and residents.

“This rhetoric can give someone a free pass to try to assault a police officer or kill a police officer, and I’m not going to allow that,” he said. “My officers should be able to go out here and work in the neighborhoods and keep this city safe without fear and without hesitation.”

And, the chief implored the community – naming himself, activists and journalists – to “lower the rhetoric.”

But community activists who have been involved in organizing two town hall meetings this month strongly disagree with the reasons why the police chief may be receiving more reports about people documenting encounters with police.

Activist Quanell X called the chief’s reaction to this increasing phenomenon “inappropriate.”

“I believe citizens have a legal, constitutional right to record and film police officers in the line of duty. I don’t see anything wrong with the public recording,” Quanell X said. “I believe no decent police officer has anything to be afraid of. I believe the rogue cops who like to beat, kick and stomp people may have a whole lot to worry about.”

The chief, who leads a force of 5,300, said the vast majority of officers do not brutalize people.

“I certainly think there has been some piling on lately, and it’s unfair to the other 5,300,” he said. “I don’t want to give anyone a free pass to assault a police officer. And I don’t want to give the police officer a free pass to overreact.”

But Pastor D.Z. Cofield, president of the NAACP Houston branch, said residents are responding in the best way they can – by creating their own record of events.

“I hope Chief Charles McClelland recognizes that what his officers are now complaining about is a fear many of the citizens of Houston have lived with for decades,” Cofield said. “And while it may be true that the vast majority of the 5,300 HPD officers do not brutalize citizens, far too many are complicit because they sit silently by with full knowledge of those who do brutalize citizens.”

McClelland said HPD’s internal affairs division has many videos that “show the violent nature of police work,” but that he is prohibited by law from releasing them to the public as others have done with footage that shows police behaving badly.

“I can’t cherry pick and show me a good video of the week and say look at this police officer being assaulted,” he said.

As evidence that HPD is policing itself, the chief points to the figure that 70 percent of complaints lodged against officers each year come from police managers and supervisors. The rest come from the public.

“I respect the opinion of citizens, individuals, activists that are out there in the community,” McClelland said. “I certainly haven’t had my head stuck in the sand and I am listening to what they’re saying and their complaints.”

He implored residents and leaders to “be responsible” in their words and their tone.

“We can’t pit the community, and especially the minority community, against the police,” the chief said.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    GodblessTexas

    over 3 years ago

    156 Comments

    I see a serious officer safety issue coming from this, when we allow people to just wander around during our traffic stops because it's "their right" to tape and record everything they want, then you have put yourself in a tactical disadvantage

  • Edres_max50

    wiyemb

    over 3 years ago

    86 Comments

    Yes they should have no problem being taped. If they are doing they're job and being proffesional they have nothing to worry about. Dont break the rules and do your job. simple

  • Ericm60_max50

    cakdep1

    over 3 years ago

    3170 Comments

    In Akron an officer became a target of the local media has caused himself many problems by getting upset because somebody videotaped him!
    Let the people video tape it becomes admisable in court! and they can be put on the stand
    This one Incident led to the officer appearing in the Newspaper four times! and a unpaid suspension!

    http://www.ohio.com/news/82574547.html

    http://www.ohio.com/news/83746107.html

    http://www.ohio.com/news/84881747.html

    http://www.ohio.com/news/84526067.html

    Go to the Taser cam web sight I have always liked video and audio recordings in court it meant less trials and more pleas!!
    My own micro recorder in my shirt pocket took the wind out of many a bogus citizen complaint!

  • 21_max50

    philfroggy

    over 3 years ago

    1564 Comments

    I don't have a problem with it as long as they respect the boundaries.

  • Robert_meyers_3_max50

    Fiveobobo

    over 3 years ago

    1948 Comments

    Someone is going to jump out of a vehicle, at night, during a traffic stop, sooner or later, pointing an object at an officer and they will be shot. I don't mind being filmed while I conduct a stop, but if you get out of the vehicle when not instructed to do so and fail to follow my commands, I will take the appropriate action necessary. I will be going home to my family when my shift is done.

  • Ba_old_glory_max50

    Jonas

    over 3 years ago

    42796 Comments

    Is Quanell X a real name or just a made up one? Any one close enough to film/scan Officer's names and badge numbers is a threat to the Officers and is interfering with Law Enforcement.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    Film them back. I show them and let them know I am recording them as well with my In Car Camera mic on my uniform and they ask them politely to exit the area of my investigation. Works most every time.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Spike_27

    over 3 years ago

    30 Comments

    People should NOT be exiting their vehicles during a traffic stop, aren't traffic stops gone wrong the main reason for officer deaths? it leaves the officers vulnerable to attack when a suspect in a traffic stop jumps out of a vehicle when an officer has instructed him or her not to do so, it also seriously undermines police authority in my opinion. police officers are people too. let them do their job and quit harassing officers.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    Houston officers are quite blessed to have a chief who backs them.Not all depts. do.In mt situation I had what we called a Continuous Disturbance.A lady called to complain about her boyfriend,five times in two weeks.He trashed the place the last two times and she always invited him back and refused to press charges.Her neighbor,from the apartment above her taped us on the last two calls and was generally giving us a load of lip.The last call,with the field Lieutenants blessing we booked her for Interfering,Disorderly Conduct,resisting and Failure to Obey an Officer.She had an extrensive prior record and was found guilty on all charges.Ninety days in jail and $500.00 fine.

  • K9-wallpaper_max50

    K9_91

    over 3 years ago

    19896 Comments

    In this day and age we are always on the radar. Bump Sarge also.

  • File0106_max50

    liljj

    over 3 years ago

    894 Comments

    Big bump to HeySarge nicely put and of course the list can continue. Ha ha... But LEO's should use people videoing to their advantage simply because if they are doing their job correctly they should have nothing to worry about.

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50

    Irishcop1961

    over 3 years ago

    50890 Comments

    In New Jersey we have controll of the motor vehicle stop. Record all you want but you will do from the inside of your car, unless I ask you to step out of your vehicle. Remember I am recording you too.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    If the individual stands back, out of the way, and takes photos, or video tapes I have no problem. Those that come up close and/ or near me or my vehicle and distracts me from doing my job. They will be arrested for interfereing with an officer. Ony fair.

  • Derrick_max50

    gradyg

    over 3 years ago

    1118 Comments

    With all these cell phones that have cameras and videos on them you can best believe your being tag by someone it can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing depending on if your doing your job accordingly. So do not think for a minute your not being watch, rather it's from a distance or next to you. From all those police officers who have violated the rights of people this is what you get. Let this situation work for you not against you us it to your advantage, unless your up to no good then you have a problem. GOD BLESS keep up the good work and BE SAFE.

  • Bald-eagle-in-flight_860_max50

    GrayPanther

    over 3 years ago

    1272 Comments

    As long as the subject with the video camera doesn't interfere with the LEO's duties, it shouldn't be a problem. These obviously anti-LE "activists" need a job....and a life. If they had one, they wouldn't be worried about finding LE misconduct; they'd have their hands full with THEIR lives, and wouldn't be telling people how pathetic they are.

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