South Florida Is Front Line in War Between Police and Civilians With Cameras

Given the profound distrust between South Florida residents and South Florida cops, it should come as no surprise that a national television network like ABC News would draw from this region to illustrate a conflict between police and camera-wielding civilians. 'Round here, we love to see cops on tape!

But cops don't love to see cops on tape, not judging by the arrest of a Boynton Beach woman who had the nerve to videotape an encounter between a police officer and her son at a movie theater.

The program reported how a Greenacres man with Apsberger's syndrome was tackled by police and then arrested because he refused to turn off his recorder. (The 63-year-old man's condition made it hard for him to remember conversations, so he recorded them often.)

You can see the ABC report here. The network didn't mention the most famous case of candid camera from last year, when Hollywood's officers were caught on video discussing how to falsify a report to make sure their fellow cop wasn't blamed for rear-ending another driver. Probably because that wasn't taped by a civilian; it was captured accidentally by the cops themselves.

But the report definitely should have mentioned a more recent case: the highly questionable arrest of Brennan Hamilton for -- well, according to the videotape his wife shot -- asking for a Fort Lauderdale cop's badge number.

For the police to bring charges against people for unauthorized recording, it would be a spectacular abuse of their power and of the advantage they already have in the local justice system. Let's hope they think better of it.

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Thomas Francis