Home » How to deal with cop ‘auditors’ – Law Officer

How to deal with cop ‘auditors’ – Law Officer

by John Hensley


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I am hesitant about giving these often annoying “auditors” more publicity – as a lot of them are just seeking to cause problems and be unnecessarily rude to police officers who are simply responding to a call for service – and I hate rewarding bad behavior. But after putting out police-related social media content for just over a year and the fact that these style of “auditor” videos have been around for about a decade – I really expected that police officers around the country would get the message and stop giving these content creators what they want – examples of cops not knowing basic law and treating citizens poorly.

I have come to the conclusion that the best way to stop these videos from going viral is for cops to stop providing the content. It’s that simple. Police officers are the stars of these videos and knowing basic law and treating people respectfully seems like it is the most efficient way for us to move past this auditor craze.

Also, knowing the law and being respectful should be the standard anyway.

Here is a list of some tips for cops to avoid ending up in an auditor’s viral video.

  1. Public photography is not illegal.
  2. If you can see it from the public view – anyone can film or take photos of it.
  3. There is no expectation of privacy in public.
  4. Filming is allowed in public buildings.
  5. The terms “public”, “government”, “state”, and “federal” property – all mean the same thing.
  6. People are allowed on public property – they do not need a “reason”.
  7. Provide your name and badge number if asked.
    1. Do not point to your chest and say, “It’s right here!”
    2. That is unbelievably rude and we all know that if someone got close enough to actually read it – we would all think the person is “too close” and an “officer safety issue”.
  8. If someone requests a “supervisor” – call one and then wait in your car for their arrival.
  9. Turn on your body camera. And leave it on.
  10. Individuals do not have to tell you what they are doing or why they are doing it.
  11. Acting “suspicious” is not a crime.
  12. In order to detain someone – police must have “reasonable articulable suspicion” that a crime has been committed.
    1. This is – specific facts and circumstances that an officer can articulate as to why they believe a crime has occurred/is occurring.
  13. Reasonable suspicion is “more than a hunch”
  14. Police enforce the law – not the “feelings” of someone who does not want to be recorded in public.
  15. A citizen is not required to give police their name and other personal information unless there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.
    1. In some states (Texas, for example) the only time a person has to identify themselves to police is if they are “lawfully arrested”…..A higher burden than reasonable suspicion.
  16. Police cannot “trespass” someone from public property unless they have committed a crime.
  17. The mere act of a ‘Karen’ calling the police and claiming that someone is “suspicious” on its own does not give the police reasonable suspicion to detain.
  18. Police can only perform a “pat down” of the outer clothing on an individual to check for weapons if there is a “reasonable basis” to believe that the individual is armed and dangerous (Terry v. Ohio).
  19. Local police should know what legal authority they have on federal property before they arrive on scene. If unsure – check with a supervisor while en route.

This is not an exhaustive list and I am positive that I have overlooked some important ones. Please comment with what needs to be added. Also, if there is an interesting or funny video that you want us to breakdown – we always welcome submissions.

This was originally published at The Police Law Substack. You can follow Police Law here and watch his videos here.

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