Longtime Photography is Not a Crime reader Mike Murphy, better known here as Concerned Citizen, took the time to draft some pointers in how to conduct a proper flood call to police departments to let them we know are paying attention to their abusive tactics. We have used that method, which I call the PINAC Wrath, with a great deal of success because most of the callers remain professional and level-headed. And they also flood the departments Facebook pages, so police are forced to respond, even if it is just deleting comments and pretending nothing happened to acknowledging the incident on their Facebook page as you can see in the screenshots below. But some readers have sought out advice in how to conduct such calls, which is why Mike wrote the following: CM
The proliferation of cams, hard-earned knowledge and legal precedents set by pioneers such as Carlos Miller, along with sympathetic courts and a proactive U.S. Department of Justice have empowered increasing numbers to document malfeasance and criminal activity of public officials, particularly the police. Additionally, apps like the ACLU’s “Stop & Frisk Watch” and services such as UStream help to assure the preservation of such documentation and help to protect one from retaliation / false charges under “Colour of Law”.
Monstrous images of brutality by those who are sworn to protect and serve their communities leave some incredulous and many others disenchanted and angry. Sites such as Photography Is Not A Crime, Cop Block, and Honor Your Oath and the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project go a long way to propagating these videos and photographs, and often post contact information for the corresponding law enforcement agencies in hopes of inducing a “Call Flood” by concerned citizens.
“Call Flooding” serves notice to law enforcement agencies that harbor, aid, and abet sociopaths-with-badges that their days of operating in the dark and with impunity are drawing to a close. And while the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees our right “…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”, the expression itself is fraught with the obstacles of reality and criminal penalties.
However just your anger, launching into a tirade allows those identified for Call Flooding to marginalize you, at a minimum. Worse, it sets the stage for provoking your anger further. An “F-Bomb” here, a heated threat there, and the next thing you know you are being reported to your hometown law enforcement agency or even the FBI for harassment.
After much personal trial and error and input from friends in law enforcement, I humbly submit for your consideration my suggestions for participating in a Call Flood. Though by no means a comprehensive instruction guide, I hope it motivates even one of those among you who are sitting on the fence to participate in Call Floods and assist others in being more effective.
- Chill. No, no… Seriously. Chill! : Don’t call when you are in an agitated / easily provocable state of mind. You want your voice to be calm and evenly modulated.
- Don’t accuse : Don’t mock, condemn, accuse or judge. You are a calm, cool and collected “concerned citizen”, not an avenging angel. You are calling to express your concern(s) and to provide them with an opportunity to share their opinion. You’ll likely not get it; but, for the purposes of Call Flooding, it’s irrelevant.
- Be polite : Greet the dispatcher / switchboard operator and any and all you are transferred to cheerfully and respectfully. Think “Schmooze”. Even if it kills you. “Good Morning Officer Krupke, how are you today?” is among your most powerful tools and immediately grants you the upper hand. Whether-or-not you choose to identify yourself is a personal decision. Personally I respond to such requests with a polite : “I’d prefer to remain just a “concerned citizen”. Though, in this age of caller ID, it’s somewhat of a moot point.
- Rise Above It : If someone you are transferred to launches into a tirade against you for no good reason ( with any luck you are the umpteenth call they’ve had to field that day ), do not take the bait. Merely call back after they likely hand up on you and ask to speak with the police ombudsman / internal affairs and make an informal complaint about the treatment you received as a concerned Citizen making a polite inquiry. A few will tell you that they can not / will not entertain anything other than a formal complaint; but, for the purposes of Call Flooding, it’s irrelevant. Thank them for their time and if a law enforcement officer, wish them “…a Good Day and a Safe Patrol” anyway. It reestablishes the non threatening nature of your call and will likely blow their minds.
- Develop Your Own Call Flood List : Contact information for public officials, law enforcement agencies, local media and civic organizations is readily available on the internet. Consider expressing your concerns with local elected officials such as the mayor and city council, local print and broadcast outlets, and even the local chamber of commerce ( if ever there’s a group sensitive to a community’s public image, it’s the local chamber of commerce ). This increases the effectiveness of a Call Flood exponentially by creating internal cross calling by those identified for a Call Flood that will last long after you’ve hung up. Consider incorporating email and even faxes into your own personal expression of concern too.
- Educate Yourself : Join the Few . . . The Proud . . . The Informed! Beside the aforementioned, resources such as Carlos Miller’s upcoming book, “The Citizen Journalist’s Photography Handbook” and sites such as “Flex Your Rights” and the ACLU are a good start to will help provide you with the tools to successfully and legally extricate yourself from a unpleasant police encounter should you find yourself behind the lens.
- Consider also calling local media and elected / civic officials to praise Law Enforcement Officers / Agencies that exemplify the professionalism that should be exhibited by all Officers / Agencies such as the that recently exhibited by an Officer of the Tucson Police Department. Though perhaps do not contact the Officer’s Department / Agency itself so’s not to unnecessarily overwhelm them, and to allow them to respond more quickly to the inquiries sure to follow from said media and officials.