Tensions rise as public film police on the job

WATCHING YOU: Police have been filmed in recent time while conducting random breath tests. Picture: Grant Wells.FRUSTRATED Tasmania Western District traffic and station police are being targeted with hidden and visible cameras, causing heated exchanges and calls for officers to have their own body cameras.
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The individual/s, who have been pointing cameras at police from vehicles at breathalyser stops, when in custody, at station headquarters and other locations, recently posted their camera footage on YouTube under the tag “Filming Police”.

The clip footage is linked to a recently established anti-police Facebook page titled Filming Tasmanian Police, which describes itself as: “Accepting all videos interacting with the local POLICY ENFORCERS, it is not illegal to film the police.”

The individuals claim it’s not illegal to point a camera at a police officer, but North-West officers have, on occasions, reacted angrily after belatedly discovering they were being filmed.

During a breathalyser stop earlier this year apparently involving a Burnie officer, where the driver was told he was over the legal blood alcohol limit, while having an opened alcoholic drink in his vehicle, the policeman became somewhat agitated when he realised he was being filmed.The officer asked the passenger to “turn that camera around”, to which the passenger replied “sorry I did not know it was illegal to film police”.

The officer responded, saying “excuse me, turn that off” and “face it the other way” – a request which was denied, prompting the officer to repeat that the camera should be turned off “because I’m asking you to”.

Other camera footage targeted at Tasmania Police and uploaded to YouTube three months ago included clips titled: “How Burnie Police Department Treats Citizens; Treatment from the Tasmania Police; and Tasmania Police Abusing their Power”.

Some of the footage showed police having their patience extremely tested by those doing the filming.

It is unclear how much of the footage, if any, has been edited before being posted online.

Tasmania Police Association president Pat Allen said while police expected to be filmed, the use of cameras should be disclosed by the public.

He said police were also wary of video being edited, which was why police should be allowed to use body-worn cameras.

“We have asked for body-worn video,” Constable Allen said yesterday.

“These people can have cameras – there’s nothing we can do about that and our members expect to be filmed or taped. I guarantee these (videos) are edited and changed to suit their events.”

Constable Allen said police objected to being filmed covertly.

“I don’t believe it should be allowed,” he said.

“If you want to do it, you should do it overtly.”

Three months ago the police union said it was a “ridiculous situation” that mobile phone and other camera technology was widely available for members of the public to use against police, however the Police Department would not approve rank and file members to wear their own body cameras, with the cost of data storage being the main issue.

The union said police were given a directive not to use body cameras.

The YouTube videos have been posted about three years after the high-profile case of a Burnie police officer and mobile phone footage of a capsicum spray incident.

In that case, Burnie officer Luke Charles Negri was found not guilty of assault after he used the spray on a boy who struck his partner in an incident at Shorewell Park, the court was told.

Originally published asTensions rise as public film police on the job by The Advocate.

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