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Thursday, December 18, 2008

New York Times Article

Officers Become Accidental YouTube Stars

Published: December 16, 2008

The uniformed traffic officer was standing at a deli counter when a man approached her and asked, “Are you on drugs?”

Police Officer Patrick Pogan on Tuesday, after he pleaded not guilty to charges resulting from an encounter with a bicyclist.

Taken aback, she replied, “What is your problem?” The man then proceeded to berate her for having parked in front of a fire hydrant outside the deli, even while fire engines responding to an emergency had stopped down the block. His voice rising to a shriek, the man followed the officer back to her car, where she politely told him, “Have a nice day.”

The officer drove away, and that was that. Until the man posted a video of the encounter on YouTube, where it had been viewed 363,478 times as of Tuesday.

That is a fraction of the 1,784,775 views of the video showing Officer Patrick Pogan knocking a man off his bicycle during a Critical Mass ride in Times Square in July. Officer Pogan was charged with assault, harassment, falsifying business records and other charges. He pleaded not guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Tuesday and was released without bail.

While that video has brought widespread attention, it is by no means unique. In fact, video and cellphone cameras have become so prevalent that they are just another part of the workday for many police officers. And they can cut both ways, sometimes assisting officers in solving crimes, and sometimes implicating them.

“People tape all the time,” said an eight-year veteran of the department, a female officer in Downtown Brooklyn who, like other officers questioned for this article, spoke only on the condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak to reporters. “It makes you uncomfortable, but that’s their right. You can’t stop them from taping.”

A search on YouTube unearthed dozens of encounters with New York police officers that often show the daily realities of policing at its most mundane.

Take, for example, a video that shows a uniformed officer trying to roust a man, who is apparently drunk, lying on the floor of a subway car. The officer touches the man and repeatedly instructs him to get up, without a response.

In another video, a man asks an officer if he may film him, and the officer replies, “You going to post them on the Internet? Then I’m going to have to break your camera over your face.” But he and other officers laugh, as does the cameraman, who eventually walks away. The video had 19,370 views as of Tuesday evening.

Several videos were made by a man calling himself Jimmy Justice, and they follow a similar formula: he confronts a police officer in the midst of some sort of apparent parking or driving violation. The traffic officer in the deli drove away from Mr. Justice with a smile, but others appeared to be more irked.

The unwitting star of a video titled “Traffic Cop Makes Illegal U-Turn” tells Mr. Justice, “Arrest me,” and encourages him to call 911. She finally concludes, “Step out of my face.”

In another video, “N.Y.P.D. Traffic Enforcement Sergeant Parks Illegally” (the titles of the videos are often benign compared to Mr. Justice’s hostility and obscenities that follow), Mr. Justice confronts a sergeant who parked beneath a no-parking sign to get money from an A.T.M.

“What was I supposed to do?” the sergeant says. “Stay hungry all day because of you?”

None of these videos rose to the level of prominence of the Critical Mass encounter or, on Sept. 24, the death of a naked and disturbed man in Brooklyn after an officer shot him with a Taser stun gun and he fell from the ledge he was standing on. The encounter was captured by an onlooker’s camera. But officers interviewed on Tuesday said videotaping is not a problem for them because they do not break departmental rules.

“If you’re getting in the way, or obstructing what I’m doing, that’s a different story,” said the officer in Downtown Brooklyn. “But if you’re not obstructing what I’m doing, you can put 10 videotapes on me.”

An officer in the Union Square subway station on Tuesday said that once when he intervened in a fight, he found he was being filmed by several people. “I asked people to help, but no one did,” said the officer. “I didn’t expect anyone to help, but at the time I really needed it. It was two against one.”

An officer directing traffic in Brooklyn asserted that it is illegal to tape police officers. “If I know that he’s taking video, I’m going to walk up to him and stop him,” the officer said.

That is not necessarily true, said Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman. Filming itself is not illegal, but interference with a police officer’s work can lead to arrest, he said. “Interference beyond just merely being obnoxious,” he said. “On balance, the proliferation of cameras has helped the police in solving crimes.” In fact, citizens who capture images of crimes in progress are now being encouraged to send the videos to the police.

An officer in his patrol car in Harlem shrugged off the cameras. “It’s a brave new world now,” he said. “They’ve got all kinds of things. You could be recording me right now.”

Reporting was contributed by Abha Bhattarai, John Eligon, Jennifer Mascia, Colin Moynihan, Rebecca White and Karen Zraick.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

way to go Jimmy Justice.We need more heroes like you!

Anonymous said...

I can understand why you are doing it, but frankly, who the heck do you call when you're in trouble? There are more important things you should be investing time in instead of the men and women you call when you're in need of help. Seriously, this is borderline pathetic!

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Justice, I support what you are doing all the way. Keep up the good work man.

I just have a comment on the statement above this
"There are more important things you should be investing time in instead of the men and women you call when you're in need of help."
Jimmy is bringing to light all of the useless cops. The cops that would most likely sit in their car and ignore you while you call for their help. I've seen a man get mugged in front of 3 police officers. Half of the NYPD is completely useless. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good cops out there, but all of the bad ones aren't being kept in check. Jimmy seems to be the only person who is trying to weed out the bad ones. Are cops allowed to abuse their power? no. I'm rambling now, so I'll stop. But ya. Jimmy, you are the man.

Anonymous said...

I Read a post before that said there are good cops as well,probably but it seems like all the bad ones ended up in N.Y.C. You dont have to be a complete idiot to be a N.Y.C. Cop.....but it helps. Thanks Jimmy fo doing what youre doing...keep up the good work.....Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this. You are harassing officers and yelling at them. Perhaps you should go other places besides NYC and see how officers behave in those areas.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Aside from the guy who came out of Victoria's Secret, I have't seen one white male, or any regular (as opposed to traffic control) NYPD cop in any of the videos? Why is that? Is Jimmy afraid to document their transgressions?

Anonymous said...

Who is going to hold these people accountable? Sure the vast majority of law enforcement are "doing the right thing." But remember, these are not ABOVE the law. This goes all the way up to our president. NO ONE is above the law. I also made a donation to your cause. Thank you Jimmy Justice.

Private Eye said...

Jimmy love your work. But be careful, as the NYPD has lots of gangsters & mobsters on the job.

If they arrest you with even more crucial goods on your tape, you'll wished you would have been wearing only a wireless lapel Mic. That way when they grab you, your cameraman is hundreds of feet away and he/she will still have the tape. Something to consider as you grow.
.

Anonymous said...

jimmy i was just watching you on msnbc and i could beleive it. I live in Mass and i am alway seeing law enforcement parking in areas were they shouldn't, think that what you are doing is GREAT!!!keep it up

Briana Latrise (Last Name: ...TBD) said...

"I'm not sure how I feel about this. You are harassing officers and yelling at them. Perhaps you should go other places besides NYC and see how officers behave in those areas."

"I can understand why you are doing it, but frankly, who the heck do you call when you're in trouble? There are more important things you should be investing time in instead of the men and women you call when you're in need of help. Seriously, this is borderline pathetic!"

I agree... seriously. I hear you... understand you and all but you can't go yelling in these people's faces. It's NYC. it's hard enough driving out there... Capture people seriously abusing the power... example: Rodney Kind style beating or a robbery or something seriously threatening... other than that it looks like ur whining.

Anonymous said...

they give tickets like animals in nyc, You are doing a good job but i don't think this will help -i noticed they tripled traffic department in the city, but the traffics gets worse -this people are busy writing tickets

Anonymous said...

dirt bag