A week ago Cedar Posts wrote about blogger "Crime In Charlotte's' shocking encounter with a couple of CMPD Independence Division officers. The story titled CMPD Independence Officer Goes Postal Over Blogger With A Camera shows the amazing power of the Internet, which brought over 20,000 page views and attention from across the nation to this story.
The story also got the attention of Charlotte's Chief of Police Rodney Monroe who responded to the "incident" with not only his classic spin, but also some frank talk, most notably:
"Based on the recent incident with CiC, we will reinforce to our officers that photographs may be taken as long as no one’s safety is jeopardized and the officers have an adequate safe zone in which to do their work. We will also review our written directives to ensure they are clear on this matter."
Chief Monroe's email in it's entirety is below, at the request of the blogger, her full name has been replace with CiC.
From: Monroe, Rodney
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 6:08 PM
To: Walton, Curt; Newbold, Mark
Cc: McCarley, DeWitt; Campbell, Eric D.; Hagemann, Robert
Subject: RE: CiC Incident
The Mayor and Council have recently received e-mails regarding CiC being told not to photograph an arrest which occurred in her apartment complex. CiC writes a blog called Crime in Charlotte but, in this instance, was acting as a private citizen who wanted to photograph the arrest to show her landlord that there was a felon on the property. The officers making the arrest instructed CiC to step back from the area. As word of this incident spread, a blog began showing several videos of police officers interacting with citizens attempting to film arrests or accident scenes.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department does not attempt to prohibit anyone, either a credentialed journalist or a private citizen, from photographing police activity unless the taking of photographs creates a safety hazard.
While we do not prohibit photography, we do have the right to designate the area from which the photographs can be taken. The officers’ priority is to designate a “safe work area” which is defined as the area he needs to do his work in a manner that protects the safety of everyone involved, including the officer. The safe area varies depending on the type of scene or the circumstances involved and restrict anyone not related to the incident from being a distraction or danger to the officer in the performance of his duties. Examples include:
Crime Scenes: Protecting the crime scene from contamination, protecting victims and witnesses on the scene and providing room for officers to interview the parties involved and process the scene.
Arrest Scenes: Providing an area where the arrest can be safely executed and the officers can maintain control over the arrestee. This ensures the safety of the officers, the arrestee, and any bystanders.
Accident Scenes: protecting citizens from an area which may be unsafe, protecting the privacy of injured victims, providing an area for interviewing witnesses, and allowing adequate space for all emergency personnel to do their work as rapidly and efficiently as possible so that injured victims can be treated and the roadways cleared.
Credentialed journalists understand the protocol at police scenes and wait to be directed to the area from which they can take video and photographs. With the proliferation of camera phones, there are now more private citizens who wish to take photographs which create a challenge for officers performing police functions and directing citizens to a safe area to take photographs.
There are instances where the demeanor of the individual taking the photographs can be a factor which may distract officers from the task which requires their attention. Several videos from the internet depict officers being distracted by those taking videos while arguing with and cursing at officers.
Based on the recent incident with CiC, we will reinforce to our officers that photographs may be taken as long as no one’s safety is jeopardized and the officers have an adequate safe zone in which to do their work. We will also review our written directives to ensure they are clear on this matter.
Also attached is a specific preliminary report reference the encounter with CiC.
Chief of Police
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