Op-Ed: Dallas Police Association against citizens filming police

Posted Apr 11, 2014 by Justin King
Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston wishes citizens would stop filming officers. The statements occurred after a Dallas police officer was filmed during a traffic stop by an unidentified woman associated with Cop Block.
Niagara Regional Police officer sleeping in cruiser
Niagara Regional Police officer sleeping in cruiser
Cop Block is a loosely knit nationwide organization dedicated to police accountability. The group and others like it have been filming police interactions, and local branches of Cop Block have sprung up around the country.
Pinkston’s comments raised eyebrows because they contain the insinuation that someone might get hurt because of the filming. Dallas-Fort Worth CBS affiliate reported
Pinkston wants citizens to stop taping because he worries someone will get hurt. “It’s creating a major officer safety issue,” he said. “We don’t know who it is pulling behind us. We don’t know they’re there to videotape, they might be part of… if that guy has has just done a kidnapping they could be part of the kidnapping. You don’t know.”
In his statement, he seems to suggest that officers might not be able to tell the difference between a camera or smartphone and a firearm. Perhaps if an officer is unable to distinguish between those items, that officer should be pursuing a different career. This lack of training and the willingness of officers to fire on citizens without knowing whether or not they are armed is part of the reason organizations like Cop Block are growing.
Public Domain Pictures
In Cop Block’s map of local groups, viewers will notice that not every major metropolitan area has a Cop Block presence. One thing unites the communities where Cop Block is most active: a large amount of officer-involved shootings of unarmed people.
The emergence of Cop Block in a community is not an indication that suddenly citizens wish to harass law enforcement, but rather that law enforcement has gotten out of control. In Dallas, for example, the department has had a rash of shootings of unarmed people, and there has been at least one case of an independent video contradicting the officer’s version of events surrounding a shooting. Last month, Dallas taxpayers had to fork out $1.1 million to man beaten and then thrown in jail for attacking a police officer and possession of crack. Video below shows that the officer’s statements were utter fabrications and that the drugs were most likely planted.
None of the officers in the cases above were ever charged with a crime. In a community where law enforcement can act in this manner with complete impunity, it should come as no surprise that they don’t want independent cameras around to destroy their carefully concocted stories.
The police association says they support dashcams and bodycams. Of course, those devices are property of the department and would be operated by the same caliber of officer that would turn it off while another officer plants evidence. In an almost laughable twist, the Dallas Police operate a program called Iwatch that requests that citizens spy on their neighbors and send in video and photos via a smartphone app. To recap: a citizen is apparently ok while spying on neighbors and providing evidence to law enforcement and runs no risk of harm, but when a citizen is filming a police officer, suddenly the video is less reliable and the camera operator may be in danger.
Hundreds gathered at the Toronto police headquarters to protest against the police s treatment of pr...
Hundreds gathered at the Toronto police headquarters to protest against the police's treatment of protesters, journalists and citizens.
A Dallas Police Department Sergeant complained that a woman filming police
refused [to provide] information and gave leading answers.
The sergeant apparently is unaware that even if she had committed a crime, she still didn’t have to provide any information. The United States has a document called the Constitution, and within that document there is a passage called the 5th Amendment. The only crime that was committed in the interaction was the unlawful detention of person exercising their constitutionally protected rights.
It’s clear from recent history with the department that Cop Block should not only continue their activities in the Dallas area, but probably needs to expand them.
Disclosure notice: While the author is not affiliated with Cop Block, the organization’s website has republished articles related to law enforcement misconduct written by the author.