Friday, August 01, 2008

Say Cheese, I'm Taking Your Mug Shot

What do you think of this move by the New York Police Department, asking citizen's to turn in
amateur video evidence of crimes, whenever they capture some?

In this age of YouTube, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has disclosed that the NYPD is in the process of installing software which would allow you to upload video or photo evidence directly to your neighborhood police precinct and 911.

Kelley said it would be "helpful" and referenced a recent incidence of police misconduct caught on amateur video and uploaded to YouTube, of that police officer shoving a bicyclist to the ground in Times Square. That video has received over a million views and was picked up by major news outlets.

That is powerful, but we think the practice could have equally powerful consequences. It's one thing to be open to looking at video turned in by people who happen to capture evidence of a crime serendipitously, but setting up an expectation could be problematic. Could you be sued if you didn't take video when you had the opportunity? And will we now have amateur vigilantly video marauders all over the city looking for crimes, and perhaps an opportunity to make the 11 o'clock news?

New York ACLU director, Donna Lieberman, added:

"While it's appropriate for police to invite video reports of wrong doing ...the New York Police Department has a long way to go to ensure that police officers who engage in wrongdoing (and are caught on tape will be) held accountable."