This weekend The Blaze reported on the 80 arrests of Days of Rage protestors in NYC, and the various YouTube videos that have been thrown up on the web to show alleged NYPD "brutality."
But a longer YouTube video has surfaced showing that the protestors were not the only ones wielding cameras. See below:
That's right -- the NYPD had officers equipped with video cameras as well. That forces us to ask the question: Why would the NYPD film its own allegedly "brutal" treatment of the protestors? The most likely answer: For its own protection.
Police filming themselves is not a new concept. For about five years now, police cruisers across the country have included dashboard cameras. Installing the cameras has proven itself a cost effective tactic, as it allowed officers in various departments to contest multi-million dollar judgments against cities and towns.
More importantly, officers who once could have faced termination or even criminal charges for false accusations of brutality are now able to rely on their in-dash cam during a traffic stop for the truth.
The in-dash cams have also spawned countless memorable clips of high speed chases and tense stand-offs for television shows like World's Wildest Police Videos.
As for the Days of Rage protest last weekend, police in New York City currently operate under guidelines from a landmark case, Hanschu vs. Special Services Division. That 1985 case made it against the law for the NYPD to investigate, or surveil, a political or activist group without specific information indicating criminal activity.
But the Handschu guidelines, as they are known, were amended in 2003 so that the NYPD would have a freer hand in counterterrorism operations. Under the newer interpretation of Handschu, the police are allowed to film or record political activity under certain specific circumstances.
There are still lingering questions about what those circumstances are. But once laws are broken, there is no prohibition. Given the 80 arrests on Saturday, it would appear the NYPD would be in the clear under any Handschu interpretation.
There will probably be heated discussion about these guidelines in the days and weeks ahead. And in the mean time, the NYPD will continue to have the difficult job of balancing free speech with public safety.
What do you think, Blaze readers? Should the NYPD be allowed to film protestors at will in public spaces, whether a crime is committed or not?