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Redmond Chief: 'Public Has a Right to Record' Interactions with Police

A Redmond Police officer has received a written reprimand after threatening to arrest a cyclist who was videotaping him during a traffic stop.

 

A Redmond Police officer who for videotaping him during a traffic stop has received a written reprimand for his actions.

In an emailed statement to Redmond Patch, Police Chief Ron Gibson said a 30-day internal investigation determined Officer Bill Corson was out of line when he told the cyclist, Stephen Kent of Seattle, that he did not have a legal right to record their interaction.

"The Redmond Police Department recognizes that citizens may record or photograph police activities in public as long as they remain at a reasonable distance, don’t interfere with the employee’s duties and responsibilities, and do not create a safety concern for the employee, person detained, or other persons," Gibson wrote. "The Redmond Police Department acknowledges the public has a right to record the activities of their police and that we are subject to public scrutiny as we carry out our duties to the citizens of Redmond."

Kent said he was riding his bicycle with two other friends on Cleveland Street one afternoon last May when the group was stopped by Corson for impeding traffic. The cyclist said he immediately began recording the encounter using a cell phone app but was ordered to stop and threatened with arrest.

In a video Kent posted to YouTube (also attached to this post), Corson is heard saying "if you record me, I'll arrest you...if you do this one second longer, you're violating a law in this state."

Gibson said Corson's actions violated two sections of the department's Manual of Standards, one that "requires that officers be familiar with and maintain a working knowledge of laws and ordinances which apply to their job function" and another that "requires officers taking enforcement action will do so within the limits of law, city charter, state constitution, U.S. Constitution and standards adopted by the Department."

Gibson said Corson, a 21-year veteran of the department with "no other sustained allegations of misconduct in his disciplinary record," received a written reprimand for his actions. Members of the department underwent additional training on video and audio recording laws as a result of the incident, Gibson said.

"This incident has provided us with an opportunity to provide better service to our community," Gibson wrote. "As a department, we are committed to protecting the individual rights of all of our citizens."

Local Guy July 06, 2012 at 08:48 PM
I am grateful that RPD has taken action and provided additional training. I remain disappointed, and suspect, that a 21 year veteran was allegedly unaware of this fundamental aspect of his duties.

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