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Civilian Review Board Discusses Cell Phone Video Arrest

March 10, 2010

By Jeff Skrzypek

EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene Civilian Review Board is took a closer look at whether Eugene Police was within the law for arresting a woman for using her cell phone camera to tape someone else being arrested.

The Civilian Review Board said a woman was witnessing the arrest of another individual, when she pulled out her camera phone and hit record. That’s when she found herself too, on the ground, with cuffs on her wrists.

But in this day and age with camera phones so commonplace, nearly every aspect of life now seems fair game for being recorded.

“People need to understand that when they’re out doing whatever they’re doing, that the tech toy generation is going to be filming you,” said Police Auditor Mark Gissiner.

And that’s exactly what one individual was doing the day she was arrested for using her camera phone to document Eugene Police making a different arrest.

“This was a public event, this person has a right to film this public event,” said Gissiner. “Including an arrest.”

The incident was the subject of Tuesday night’s Civilian Review Board case study. Board members were trying to understand exactly what happened with the phone video taping and why.

“After the person had already been taken away, that it became, that there was a response from the officers to remove the cameras, or the phones really,” said board member Eric Van Houten.

Under Oregon state law, a person can be arrested for filming an arrest, as Individuals cannot record the sound of people without their knowledge. But the distinction is that the law applies only on private property.

“However in this case, that was not accurately applied and the officer made an arrest in that case,” said Eugene Police Officer Doug Mozan.

The arrest made on a public sidewalk. But Eugene Police defended their actions saying the situation was chaotic, and the person doing the filming was also getting in the way of the officers trying to do their job.

“The actions of the person, independent of the recording probably would have merited an arrest, we have other laws that we could have applied in this case and didn’t,” said Mozan.

Police Auditor Gissiner said they’re looking at the cell phone arrest as a learning experience.

“Again it’s the old wire tapping law that’s still in the books and probably needs to be looked at again,” said Gissiner.

He says in this generation, public filming is something they’ll need to take into account when reevaluating laws.

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