Boston police commissioner wants laws requiring ‘distance’ for people filming cops
Boston police commissioner William Evans called for legislation limiting residents’ ability to record police activity and also downplayed officers’ refusal to identify themselves to the public during an interview with the Boston Herald.
“If we can get legislation to make it fair, so it protects both sides, then I’m all for it,” he said. “Should you be up in a police officer’s face, agitating them? Absolutely not. Would I love to see a little distance? I’d love to see that.”
Evans’ recommendation has already met with some resistance from the American Civil Liberties Union’s Massachusetts office, which has pointed out that residents have a right to film police activity if they are not interfering with an officer’s work.
“Its the first part of the constitution that citizens have a right to see what the government is doing,” staff attorney Carl Williams told New England Cable News.
The commissioner also alluded to a July 4 encounter between a reporter for the Bay State Examiner and an officer who would only identify himself as Deputy Superintendent Ridge.
Ridge ordered four officers not to respond to the Examiner‘s request for their badge number and identification, and then ordered the reporter to leave, saying the officers “have a job to do.” The officers were not visibly taking part in any activity at the time of the encounter. Footage of the encounter can be seen here.
“If the officer had an incident with that person and the person wanted our badge, of course we’re going to give it,” Evans told the Herald. “But when you’re just out there for the very reason of trying to get a getcha moment, then that’s irritating to us.”
He also called for legislation in response to an Aug. 3 incident in which officers said residents refused to help them while they were struggling to arrest an unidentified man, who ended up kicking one officer in the chest and throwing another one to the ground.
“If a cop is on the ground struggling with someone, like he was the other night and everybody is videotaping, someone should be held accountable for not stepping up and helping them,” Evans said.
Watch footage from the interview, as posted by the Herald, below.