We appear to have another citizen arrested for exercising his constitutional rights to videotape police in public. Jared Parr, the founder of a YouTube channel called Rockville Cop Watch, has posted his encounter with Montgomery County Police officers at a routine traffic stop. The officers are shown demanding that he turn off his camera and what proceeds is yet another tirade from an officer who seems entirely clueless about the first amendment and basic constitutional rights. For a prior column on this issue, click here.
The video shows an officer saying “I believe you’re video taping. I believe you’re audio recording.” Parr responds that he is indeed recording and the officer immediately states, incorrectly, “Okay, you’re not allowed to do that. That’s against the law to audio record without my permission.” Parr says the officer is mistaken and asks if he is being detained. The officer says that he is indeed being detained: “You’re being detained right now because you’re audio recording and you’re not supposed to.” He was then arrested and charged with obstructing police.
Maryland continues to be a jurisdiction abusing the rights of citizens in filming police in public despite court orders clearly establishing that this is a protected constitutional exercise. This type of abuse occurs because neither police nor prosecutors are punished for violating the rights of citizens in this area. Parr is right in his accounting of his constitutional rights. You have two officers who not only commit a false arrest but do so despite the detailed defense of the citizen. They do not call the matter in or confer. They are intent on arresting the citizen for not yielding to their demands. If this case follows the pattern we have seen in the past, the charges will be dropped after the citizen has been forced to spend time and money in his own defense. However, no disciplinary action is likely given the past pattern in these cases.