Home > Social Issues > Police: Our Privacy Was Violated When We Didn’t Smash All the Cameras

Police: Our Privacy Was Violated When We Didn’t Smash All the Cameras

March 16th, 2016

Some Santa Ana, CA police officers were charged recently after a raid on a pot dispensary last year. The raid was carried out because the shop apparently did not have a permit to operate. This matter is dodgy because the city issues permits based on a lottery which appears to be rigged.

That wasn’t what concerned me about the raid, however.

After the police broke in with a battering ram, three wearing ski masks and most of them pointing guns as if they expected armed resistance, the officers’ behavior was less than exemplary. One of the main charges is that the officers helped themselves to the snacks owned by the shop and intended for the staff, and may have even eaten some products that were edibles.

While that’s illegal, that’s not what concerned me about the raid, either.

The person running the shop that day was a wheelchair-bound amputee, with whom the officers had words. After showing her out, one police officer complained that she wanted to “kick her in her fucking nub.”

While unprofessional, no physical abuse took place, so that’s not what concerned me about the raid, either.

This is what concerned me: the shop had a conspicuous and operating 16-camera surveillance system monitoring the shop, and the first thing the cops did was to disable it. They took large wire-cutters to the cables, and one officer even disabled five of the cameras by smashing them against the counter and the register. What they didn’t know was that there was a second security system of four more cameras which were hidden from view. That’s how we know about all the stuff the officers did—stuff they usually deny because, well, they had successfully disabled 16 different security cameras.

The officers then claimed, in their defense, that the evidence against them should be dismissed because—get this—the shop violated the privacy of the police officers.

Yep. In their legal filing, the attorneys for the police charged that the dispensary “secretly recorded the officers in a clear violation of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, which criminalizes the non-consensual recording of confidential communications.”

I have to wonder, is that even possible? Can the police actually raid a shop, smash an extensive security system, and then charge the shop owners with invasion of privacy because the police didn’t find and smash a second camera system?

Beyond that, however, is the initial question: how is it legal for the police to destroy the main surveillance system in the first place? What was their justification, not just for damaging the equipment, but for disabling it at all?

Aren’t we supposed to be in an age where such footage is supposed to help us trust the police? And what does it say about that trust when, after thinking that they disabled all the cameras, the cops suddenly start stealing food, playing darts, and generally acting like asshats?

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  1. Troy
    March 17th, 2016 at 10:49 | #1

    that’d be a good example of ‘chutzpah’ for your english-learning students.

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