A Massachusetts state police officer pulled a woman over for an expired inspection sticker earlier this month, telling her it was illegal to record him as she did so openly, which is not illegal.
“It is illegal to audio and visual record anyone without their permission regardless of their job,” the cop, identified as Kenneth Harold, said, seconds after the woman turned the volume down to Nine Inch Nails’ Terrible Lie, an appropriate song for the occasion.
No, the Massachusetts wiretapping law, which is currently the strictest in the nation, states that it is illegal to secretly audio record anybody whether they have an expectation of privacy or not.
The fact that the cop immediately noticed she was recording negates the component of the law that would make it an illegal offense.
Furthermore, the 2011 Glik vs. Boston decision not only confirmed, once again, that citizens have the right to record cops, but also confirmed that citizens in Massachusetts must simply hold the recording device in plain view to bypass the “secretly” provision of the state wiretapping law:
The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.”
Simply put, a straightforward reading of the statute and case law cannot support the suggestion that a recording made with a device known to record audio and held in plain view is “secret.”
The woman knew the law, so she continued recording, even though he continued insisting she was breaking the law, at one point, even threatening to confiscate the camera.
Ultimately, it became clear that he knew his bluff had been called because he then just ordered her to “turn it away from me,” which is a copout, to say the least, from his earlier demands.
UPDATE: The driver of the car is named Maya and she works for a new website called Bay State Examiner. Watch the video below to see them walking into a state police building and find out the officer’s name as well as how they drill the cop about their training on state wiretapping laws.