Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A harsh warning for the Baltimore City police department. The feds speak out when their arrests are caught on tape.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the controversy.
The Department of Justice has filed an 11-page letter telling the Baltimore City police their policy about citizens videotaping officers is inadequate.
A violent arrest was caught on tape at the 2010 Preakness. Police deleted the video from Chris Sharp’s phone.
“The guy actually said, `That’s what you get for taping it,’” Sharp said.
Sharp is suing police for violating his First Amendment rights. Now the Department of Justice is weighing in, saying city officers should be advised “not to threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement activities or intentionally block or obstruct cameras.”
City police implemented new guidelines but a month later WJZ obtained video where officers didn’t tell a man to stop recording them but threatened to arrest him for loitering.
This Department of Justice letter cites this case, calling out the officers for looking for other law violations to stop that man from recording them.
“We’ve got to make sure that the police are properly trained on what rights they must protect as opposed to intrude on,” said attorney Byron Warnken.
Warnken says police policy must be more precise.
“I think they need fairly specific guidelines in terms of space and conduct,” Warnken said.
The Department of Justice letter also says officers do not have the right to damage or delete video or pictures without a warrant.
Baltimore City police would not talk about the DOJ letter, saying they don’t comment on pending litigation.