Don’t “Annoy” Your Local Police Or Else

Submitted by Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

220px-Badge_1012There is a new bill passed by the New York State Senate that relates to many of the blogs and discussions we have had here through the years. This bill would make it a felony to “annoy” a police officer acting in the course of his duties. While I can understand that directly interfering with a  police officer in the middle of his duties should not be done, we have seen through the years that the police broadly interpret what is “interference” to include what is obviously a person exercising their First Amendment rights, such as responding negatively to a police officers actions or videotaping them. I find this law another distressing example of how far we are going in the direction of a police state, since as we have seen in our many blogs and discussions here it will be abused time and again. I will have several links at the bottom to illustrate some of the issues dealing with purported “police interference on the Jonathan Turley Blog alone.The New York State Senate passed a bill Wednesday that makes it a felony to “harass, annoy, threaten or alarm” an on-duty police officer. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Pat Gallivan, George Maziarz, Michael Ranzenhofe and Joe Griffo, seeks “to establish the crime of aggravated harassment of a police officer or peace officer.”

“Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection,” Mr. Griffo told WIVB 4. “And those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions.”

A press release from the New York State Senate originally stated, “The bill (S.2402), sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) would make it a felony to harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.” However, WIVB 4 notes that as the bill is written, a person would be guilty of aggravated harassment if he or she contacted the officer physically with the intent to “harass, annoy, threaten or alarm.” The legislation is now on its way to the State Assembly. If it becomes law, anyone found guilty could face up to four years in prison, WIVB 4 reports.Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/6/untouchables-ny-bill-would-make-annoying-police-fe/#ixzz2VY1tw9wJ
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The following are some stories we’ve dealt with here in the past that deal with the consequences of “annoying” the police. I use them as backup for my assertions that this prospective law in New York State will be use to further insulate police from discipline, while it disciplines the public for daring to question some actions taking place right before their eyes.

Baltimore police sued for allegedly beating and arresting a woman who filmed them.http://jonathanturley.org/2013/05/21/baltimore-police-sued-for-allegedly-beating-and-arresting-woman-who-filmed-them-in-public/

San Diego police arrest man saying his cell phone is a weapon and so arrest him when he refuses to stop filming them.http://jonathanturley.org/2013/04/11/san-diego-police-tell-man-that-his-cellphone-is-a-weapon-and-arrested-him-after-he-refuses-to-stop-filming-them-in-public/

In this next blog a physics major who got the best of a police officer, as shown on tape, could have been charged with a felony for his answer for irritating (annoying) the police officer. .http://jonathanturley.org/2013/05/17/physics-major-school-police-officer-on-math-in-roadside-stop/#more-64383

In this case the young make pranked the officer but was arrested for filming the incident. http://jonathanturley.org/2013/03/19/61924/

In Florida the police charged a man with assault after they beat and tasered him was caught on video.http://jonathanturley.org/2013/03/15/video-florida-police-officers-charge-man-with-assaulting-them-after-one-beats-him-without-provocation-and-a

In the next one Montgomery Alabama police arrest a citizen for filming them. http://jonathanturley.org/2013/02/25/montgomery-police-arrest-a-citizen-for-filming-them-in-public/

Here is the story of a Minnesota man arrested by police after he filmed them. http://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/09/minnesota-man-criminally-charged-after-filming-police-in-public/

These 6 stories are all from the beginning of 2013 until now on our blog. You will note that they all related to videotaping police officers in the course of their duties. We already have court cases that have ruled that videotaping police is protected by the First Amendment. http://peacefreedomprosperity.com/5618/federal-court-rules-videotaping-police-is-a-first-amendment-right/ by refusing to rule on the lower court’s decision. http://www.courtroomstrategy.com/2012/11/supreme-court-upholds-legality-of-videotaping-police/I believe that we have a Constitutional right and a duty as citizens to question police and/or film them when they appear to be discharging their duties improperly. The reality of dealing with the consequences thought is quite different for almost all of us citizens. Being arrested for the average citizen is a costly affair. Being eventually found innocent for most means that we have already been punished for a crime by the arrest, the incarceration and/or the bail being posted, and finally by the lawyer’s fees. Then too, for many the fact of being arrested could cause them a loss of employment and or wages.  In the main our Judicial System takes no cognizance of the ordeal that an innocent person faces being put through the legal system. When finally a trial, held perhaps six months to a year later, exonerates them they have been left more impoverished than they began. In some cases they may be able to sue, but a torts case takes years to pursue in court and few lawyers would accept the average case on contingency. A law such as this, if it passes the NYS Assembly and is signed by Governor Cuomo which is probable, will only serve to give the police another weapon to use against citizens. Most of us, no matter how much we pretend to courage, take the easiest way out by dealing with police officers deferentially even though they might be wrong. This chilling effect leads us another few steps down the path to a police state.

What is your opinion?

What do you think about this prospective law and how do you think it will it will be applied in everyday life?

36 thoughts on “Don’t “Annoy” Your Local Police Or Else

  1. Interesting story Mike. I am amazed how anyone in their right mind can think that it should be illegal to “annoy” anyone! Just what does that mean. This law is not only stupid, it is vague.

  2. The essential elements of this statute are as follows:

    1) With intent to “WITH THE INTENT TO HARASS, ANNOY, THREATEN OR ALARM”
    2) STRIKES, SHOVES, KICKS OR OTHERWISE SUBJECTS
    SUCH PERSON TO PHYSICAL CONTACT

    The state would have to prove that an officer acting on official duties was subject to both in order to secure conviction. One without the other will invalidate the case.

    The problem I see is as follows: the broadness of “physical contact”; “annoy” can be hard to establish in that the state, which cannot be offended by words, may be also too broadly construed and establishing what is considered annoying. Would it be a reasonable law enforcer standard or reasonable person standard.

    Also, this seems like a conduit to prosecute persons who otherwise would could be charge with a misdemeanor level Resisting Arrest violation to be prosecuted as a felony.

    Assaulting a LEO in every state I know of is a Felony. I don’t know if NY made simple assault on a LEO as a misdemeanor offense and this new statute has the dual effect of making such assaults felony.

    I can easily see this being abused by some, as it takes very little to invoke this law during the course of arrest of many persons especially drunks.

    The courts I generally worked under tended to frown on even misdemeanor level Resisting Arrest being charged against suspects who do anything less than actual physical resistance that takes more than simple control techniques by the officer to overcome. The courts generally assume that most people, especially drunks, are going to be upset and provide mild or passive resistence to being arrested. If the suspect actually assaults the officer the resisting arrest charge is golden. Complete passive resistence is difficult to prosecute as well.

    This New York law would make most active resistences of arrest felony.

    But the take away most people will need to bear in mind is if in NY and they wish to argue and shout all sorts of taunts to the police, they had better not even touch the officer if they want to avoid being charged. There was a supreme court decision (I believe it was my memory is not serving me well if it was this or WA’s) that a suspect does not have a right to resist arrest even if the arrest is later determined to be unlawful. On balance we have to remember that in looking on whether or now causing a physical assault to a LEO is something that should be outlawed. But in the case of this statute, there is some worrying issue with the vagueness and over reach of it.

  3. Annoying went to a new level this week. Miami-Dade police in Florida tackled a 14-year-old kid for giving them a “dehumanizing stare” while carrying a puppy. They accused him of the terrible offense of “clenching his fists” although I am not sure how that will fly in court since he was carrying a puppy at the time. He was tackled, thrown to the ground and put in a choke hold for his crimes. He has also been charged with felony resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The puppy was also injured when they threw the kid to the ground, but apparently the puppy will not be charged.

    Story at Salon: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/30/miami_olice_choke_and_tackle_black_teen_for_dehumanizing_stare/

    His mother saw it, had the presence of mind to video it on her cell phone. The police claimed they had to “neutralize the threat.”
    Really? A 14-year-old kid with a puppy walking away from them is a threat?

  4. A few civilian deaths is a small price to pay to have calm law enforcement officers. Besides, it’s a fact that good people are never arrested. So isn’t this a benefit to the law abiding population?

  5. If you live in NY State you should be writing and calling and emailing your state rep and state senator now.

  6. I know of someone in NYS who was charged with felony resisting arrest when he said, “what for?” They had just awakened him. He next said “no way I’m resisting” and put his wrists out in front of him. The accompanying charge was misdemeanor harassment for a mutual disagreement with someone with an agenda.

  7. There are some cops who find the mere existence of civilians annoying.

    Of course the states may need to fill up those privately run prisons and are depending on “officer discretion” to do so.

    Gotta give ’em the tools.

  8. Urge the legislature that to pass a law which protects people from being annoyed, harassed or intimidated by police officers

  9. Blouise, You are one of the good folks who use the word “some,” when referring to cops. Too many here tacitly malign all cops.

  10. Nick,

    There are good attorneys as well….and there are some good judges… But when you experience a bad one… Kinda sours you for all of em… Cops on the other hand…. And I know some nice ones…. That just look the other way when a rogue cop does terrible things….. Which is worse than being the rogue cop….. Food for thought..l

  11. Missing the point: let the legislation cover all, not just one class, who incidentally, are being paid by all ofus

  12. nick,

    I have many friends on different police forces who put their lives on the line every day at work. They see the worse in man on a daily basis and yet maintain their humanity and sense of fairness. They don’t tar every citizen with the brush of the criminal and I’m sure as he!! not going to paint them with the brush of the few stinkos.

  13. We each chose. The election to be a cop is personal and this is part of their job description with substantial benefits and some costs. The job calls for putting themselves on the line.

  14. The NY Senate vote on the bill went like this:

    Ayes (50): Adams[D], Addabbo[D], Avella[D], Ball[R], Bonacic[R], Boyle[R], Breslin[D], Carlucci[D], DeFrancisco[R], Diaz[D], Espaillat[D], Farley[R], Felder[D], Flanagan[R], Fuschillo[R], Gallivan[R], Gipson[D], Golden[R], Griffo[R], Grisanti[R], Hannon[R], Kennedy[D], Klein[D], Lanza[R], Larkin[R], Latimer[D], LaValle[R], Libous[R], Little[R], Marcellino[R], Marchione[R], Martins[R], Maziarz[R], Nozzolio[R], O’Brien[D], O’Mara[R], Peralta[D], Ranzenhofer[R], Ritchie[R], Robach[R], Sampson[D], Sanders[D], Savino[D], Seward[R], Skelos[R], Smith[D], Tkaczyk[D], Valesky[D], Young[R], Zeldin[R]

    Nays (13): Dilan[D], Gianaris[D], Hassell-Thompson[D], Hoylman[D], Krueger[D], Montgomery[D], Parker[D], Perkins[D], Rivera[D], Serrano[D], Squadron[D], Stavisky[D], Stewart-Cousins[D]

    (S2402 vote). Twenty Democrates voted for the bill, 30 Republicans also voted for it.

    Thirteen democrats voted against it, zero Republicans voted against it.

  15. More mental illness. Scratch New York off the places to visit. Like they NYC cops need any more excuses to assault free citizens.

  16. Scott Greenfield at the Simple Justice blog has a good post on this, for those who haven’t seen it.

    This law is over the top. It’s just further ammo for the police to punish the high offense of “contempt of cop” and is ripe for abuse by the thug sector of the force. And it will further clog the courts and prisons of NY.

    And as Mike pointed out, even those who are eventually acquitted will pay a high price for having had to take “the ride” through the “justice” system. Better kiss those boots or else.

  17. New York is close to being classified as a Pirate Territory. First, the crime is bad. Second, the Law Enforcement Offenders are controlled by themselves and thus they are pirates. Fly over and flush. Twice over Manhattan and Long Island.

  18. Blouise and AY, I agree w/ both of you. If you want to know why my comments are slow and abbreviated go to the Panetta thread for the explanation.

  19. Dredd, Have you read Putin is getting divorced for a woman half his age? Most political men are vain, aldulterous, pigs. Particularly the short ones.

  20. nick spinelli 1, June 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Dredd, Have you read Putin is getting divorced for a woman half his age? Most political men are vain, aldulterous, pigs. Particularly the short ones.
    ================================
    Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) indicates that it does not matter legally.

    Politically it is as religiously hot as a Pope asked about women in the priesthood.

    The pop psychology is no better than the pope psychology IMO.

    Eugenics sucks.

    Size is in the eye of the beholder.

  21. Unconstitutionally vague.

    I’d like to see the first test case when someone was convicted of annoying a police officer. “annoy” is only slightly more vague than “best interests.”

  22. I have no problem at all painting the police with a broad stroke. I have yet to find one that I don’t consider to be a complete, disgusting worm of a coward.The duty is to protect the citizen, not themselves. I’m sure there’s a good cop or two out there. I just haven’t met any.

  23. This ain’t Canada anymore

    A police oversight body is probing the comments of a police officer who was caught on YouTube telling a man who refused to be searched during the G20 summit, “This ain’t Canada right now.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2011/01/21/g20-police-officer-youtube.html

    “I was actually responding to him, saying, ‘OK, well, I’m not going to open my backpack so I’m going to leave and that’s actually when he assaulted me and said you don’t get a choice.”

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