Las Vegas Police Claim Camera-Wielding Citizens Compromising Officer Safety

FOX5 Vegas – KVVU

Las Vegas police are accusing so-called sovereign citizens of posing a threat to their safety because they tend to video record them during traffic stops.

But if all they are wielding are cameras, then police should have no fear for their safety, even if the U.S. Government does define the sovereign citizen movement as a domestic terrorist group.

Here is how Wikipedia describes the sovereign citizen movement:

The sovereign citizen movement is a loose grouping of American litigants, commentators, and financial scheme promoters. Self-described sovereign citizens take the position that they are answerable only to common law and are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state or municipal levels, or that they do not recognize U.S. currency and that they are “free of any legal constraints”.[1][2][3] They especially reject most forms of taxation as illegitimate.[4] Participants in the movement argue this concept in opposition to “federal citizens” who, they say, have unknowingly forfeited their rights by accepting some aspect of federal law.[5]

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classifies “sovereign citizens” among domestic terror threats as anti-government extremists.[6] In 2010 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimated that approximately 100,000 Americans were “hard-core sovereign believers” with another 200,000 “just starting out by testing sovereign techniques for resisting everything from speeding tickets to drug charges.”[7]

So if that’s the case, then police should have no trouble finding something to charge them that has nothing to do with video recording them in public, which is completely legal.

But Fox5 News in Las Vegas came out with an investigative “special report” titled “Video Vigilantes: Are They Going Too Far?” in which they failed to mention a single instance of camera-wielding sovereign citizens who caused any harm to police officers.

Wikipedia does report that law enforcement officers were killed by sovereign citizens in Louisiana and Arkansas and that Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols was a sovereign citizen but those guys were wielding something a little more lethal than cameras.

According to the Fox5 News report:

“We have had situations where a sovereign citizen was stopped, and they immediately got on their cell phone,” said Al Salinas, a Metro officer and director of the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center.

“Within a short amount of time, a second vehicle arrives at the officer’s stop, and there are several individuals within that vehicle that are videotaping the police officer,” Salinas continued.

While police acknowledge it is legal, they say it can cross a line, even threatening an officer’s safety.

“Our concern is when the individuals, the citizens, become so aggressive with the videotaping, they approach upon the officer’s immediate area, immediate space, where it draws the officer’s attention away from where it should be,” said Salinas.

First of all, how is that different than when police call for back-up when they pull you over for a traffic violation? If so many police officers didn’t have a tendency to create their own version of the truth, there would be no need for camera-wielding citizens.

Second of all, anybody who has any experience with cameras knows you can’t stand too close to your subject if you want to document it, so I hardly believe these guys are invading the cops’ “immediate area.”

The truth is, we have seen endless cases of cops invading the immediate area of the camera-wielding citizen. Not the other way around.

All that is taking place here is another attempt to equate camera-wielding citizens as domestic terrorists. And another example of the media falling for it.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • rick

    Judging from PINAC and other similar sites, cops that fear accountability threaten my safety.

  • $22798478

    The excuse that it takes their attention away it utter bullshit. When Officer Dumbass pulls someone over in the middle of a busy pedestrian area, do they ever block off the street or that side of the sidewalk ? NO ! Do cops tell people at a festival walking by to stay further away when they are dealing with lets say a drunk man falling all over ? NO !

    Nothing but excuses because they hate being on camera because now they have to act like normal people when dealing with citizens, now they have to HONOR THEIR OATH ! If some of these cops were not so damn dirty then this videotaping the police movement would have never started and become so widely known and popular.

    Things take time for change, and what we as a nation are seeing in this movement is positive, but slow. Keep filming and make them so paranoid about someone videotaping that the cause and effect will make them to act as PROFESSIONALS ! If not, they will be moving on to another career field.

    • Proud GrandPa

      Some people are motivated by fear of punishment for bad behavior, but I most are more motivated by desire for success or mastery (according to psychiatrists). I look forward to more officers (and politicians) who are motivated by the desire to do what is moral and good in the sight of God. Some others may have honorable behavior based upon the desire to get promoted or meet ego needs. For them, their personal integrity determines if they violate the law or your rights.
      The camera does not make bad cops become good cops. It allows the people to reject bad cops. Perhaps, in this life, that is enough.

  • Difdi

    If a person with a camera is a vigilante, I feel I must point out that Fox 5 would have been unable to produce their report without at least one person holding a camera…

  • Tracy

    (Going to far) give me a break, the authority use’s the DOT cameras on every intersection in the Las Vegas valley to monitor anyone they wish.That can be abused! don’t quote me but I’m quite sure that the NRS states as long as someone is 25 feet away from the officer he or she is with in the law. Everyone is accountable for their own actions And I aplaude MOST officers in this valley for having restraint and acting in an imparcial manner to uphold the law.

  • Tracy

    Take for instance the ERIC SCOTT shooting I had 3rd hand info that there was a video from costco but it mysteriously disappeared! (REALLY)! some cops are so corrupt. We all have to answer to our sins someday, and with all this talk of peace and safety you have to wonder if the BIBLE was right all along. (​v=xpJbAE6BmHo )

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      Nope, it wasn’t. It’s fiction.

  • Tracy

    1Thessalonians 5:3

  • Ian Battles

    “If a camera is a “threat to safety”, you need to turn off your dashcam Officer…”

    • William Jones

      Believe it or not, LV police don’t have dashcams…

      • Carlos_Miller

        Miami cops don’t have dash cams either. They can’t afford the liability.

        • tiny

          liability? what liability, if they are not doing anything wrong, they have no reason to be afraid, right? this south florida area is a bag ass joke, on so many levels.

          • Rockinghorseguy AnRockinghorse

            Hey, if the dashcam shows the LEO violating a citizen’s rights, they can easily “lose” that footage, can’t they?

      • Tracer76

        Yes they do both HPD, NHP, and Metro have them. My neighbor is a fucking pig. I see the car every day that this douchebag uses.And he is METRO KID

        • William Jones

          No they don’t. HPD and NHP do, but Metro doesn’t. Give their public information office a call and ask — (702) 828-3394. Or just Google it —

      • Tracy

        Henderson PD does, and plate scanners.

  • steveo

    “Nevertheless, a person’s exercise of free speech, without more, in an open public place while an officer is engaged in the execution of a legal duty must do more than merely irritate, annoy, or distract the officer to constitute a crime.“ D.A.W v.State
    come on leos, time to put it to rest.

  • steveo

    this seems to me to be the consensus of opinion with leos around the country, you see it on and on various forums that police know that the cameras are here to stay but they are going to do everything they can in their power to stop the use of them. Obstruction, Harassment, trespassing, loitering, disturbing the peace any secondary charge that they can construct, they are going to do it because they don’t want to be recorded.

  • Stephen Jackson

    What a horribly reported story. The Vegas reporter should be ashamed of this piece of crap.

  • bj

    The report was obviously pretty weak in a number of areas but for mainstream material it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. My feeling is that there is progress being made and that came through in the reporting (at times!). No revolution ever comes overnight….eventually attitudes will change for the better about filming gov officials, people resistant to unconstitutional legislation and perhaps even sovereigns. Where the tipping point is I’m not sure and it’s completely unpredictable. At the end of the day though, the vast majority of decisions e.g.police policy are made by very few people. Change can happen, it’s usually just a matter of influencing the right people in the system and getting numbers (often mainstream opinion).

  • Tracer76

    YEs you can record any cops there is no issue with this. Look up

    ” Supreme Court rules cops can be filmed”

    Any time a cop does not want to be filmed we also have the right to make a arrest on the officer at any point where they are not obeying the law. Cops are not a safty today they are the threat most so then gang members, the mafia, or even the Cartels ect,,,, I would be safer with them then the cops. I say just kill all the pigs there is no need for any of them.

  • William Toler

    I wonder if they’re equating the voluntaryists and other libertarian activists with the “Sovereign Citizen Movement?” The ideals are very similar, though voluntaryists reject the initiation of force.

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      Do the voluntaryists and other ilbertarian activists also believe that the law doesn’t apply to them? This is not a snarky remark, I’m trying to understand where they fit in.

      • JdL

        Do the voluntaryists and other ilbertarian activists also believe that the law doesn’t apply to them? This is not a snarky remark, I’m trying to understand where they fit in.

        Any laws that restrict me from engaging in force or fraud are legitimate, and apply to me. Any that don’t aren’t, and anyone who enforces them is a criminal. This last statement, by the way, has been applied by the United States against its enemies, so must apply to the U.S. as well, unless (as many in this country seem to believe) the U.S. is a place specifically ordained by God to break all the rules it enforces against others.

        • ExCop-Lawyer

          OK, thanks for the explanation.

          I don’t subscribe to that philosophy, but it is hard to debate issues if you don’t know what the other party believes.

          Thanks again.

          • n4zhg

            It’s no different than the distinction between malum in se and malum prohibitum. Malum in se applies to me. Malum prohibitum? Most likely not.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Actually they both do. You don’t get to “opt out” of obeying the law.

  • YouGuysAreIgnorant

    Guys, seriously, think for a minute. People who arrive at the scene in response to a friend being pulled over/questioned are different than regular pedestrians. Why? Because they are there in response to the police. Invading their space DOES take their attention away. How is this different than calling for backup? Well for starters, the backup is a police officer – someone the officer on scene can trust. The guys who just showed up are NOT trusted, so yes their attention is certainly divided. And have you seen some of the videos? Not all of them, but many have people shouting at the police officers, etc, distracting them. Come on, stop your bullshit and think about the situation.

    Want to take pics/video? Fine. But do it away from the police and do it silently. Anything else is adding to the intensity of the situation, and if you’re going to be doing that then yes, the officer should be able to do something about it. When I clicked this article I thought I was going to see some extreme BS police rant about cameras, instead I found them saying “stop fucking with us and getting too close, I don’t know you and I can’t trust you”.

    What’s too close? I don’t know, but try keeping at least 40ft away. I believe the average speed of a person makes it so they can close a gap of 20ft with a knife in 1 second, so maybe go farther than that.

  • Frmr. Vegas Resident

    The Las Vegas media is known for being very comfy with Metro police. Especially frmr. nbc Anchor Nina Radetich and current nbc anchor Jim Snyder.

  • Michael Hall

    the guys with all the potential law and firepower are afraid of an unarmed citizen with a camera because….the camera won’t lie!

  • Uncle Arty

    I film cops every chance I get, and when cops tell me they don’t want to be on youtube my response is then don’t break the law and don’t be an asshole and you won’t end up on youtube that freaking simple

    • ExCop-Lawyer


      If they don’t do something stupid, not many people will post the video. It’s rare enough that they post one of an officer doing things right, like the Albany deputy who stood up to Doug Myers at the airport.

  • Kyle Blackman

    Cops lie
    Videos don’t