The tensions continue between citizens who choose to film the police in action and law enforcement officers who prefer not to be filmed in action, with the most recent case taking place here in St. Lucia.
A caller on Police Insight aired on Sunday (Nov.8) claims that he was filming a recent accident, when a police officer walked up to him, took his cellphone and “smashed” it.
The caller claims that the phone does not belong to him, but rather it is company property. The unknown caller said he will now have to pay the full cost to replace the cellphone.
“Why did the police take my phone by twisting my hand? What I am saying they could have told me not to record, but they took my cellphone and destroyed it,” he remarked.
However, his complaint was met with concern by the police panel.
Police Press Officer Zachary Hippolyte told the caller that the police officer was wrong to do that and questioned if he ever reported the matter to the station.
The man responded in the negative stating: “What could I do. Nah. Come on, make a report for what, nothing? I cannot take any recourse…But you and I know if I make a report it will go nowhere.”
But Hippolyte defended the force stating that once a report is made, the police will seek to have the matter investigated and not because it was a police officer who wronged him he shouldn’t report it.
“We do not, caller, condone those actions. Every time we tell individuals if a member of the organization in your opinion has done something wrong to you, you have a right to make a report to any station. It is your right,” Hippolyte told the caller.
The police press officer went on to state that it is unfortunate that he has experienced such an incident. “It was a wrong action of the police. In my opinion you can still make a report,” Hippolyte said.
The unidentified man asked Hippolyte if he can assist him, which he agreed to. The caller said he will meet with Hippolyte on Monday and so he could be directed to the right department, where he can lodge a formal report.
Another caller criticized the action of the police, stating that no police officer have to right to stop someone from filming, but believes that the only concern should be what the film is used for.
On the other hand, persons also said it would be understandable in special circumstances where there is a serious crime and a police request persons not to engage in filming.
But they said to forcefully take someone’s cellphone and damage it, and in some cases threaten the individual, is taking it a step too far and should not be allowed to continue.
This is not the first time law enforcement has forcibly objected to being filmed.