Truck driver Brian Miner was hauling a load through Illinois last week when a police cruiser passed him at a high rate of speed. According to Miner, who captured the incident on his dash cam, the officer was not only going well over the 70 mile per hour posted speed limit, but was also on his cell phone, a violation of Illinois State law.
Miner, who had his cruise control set at 65 miles per hour, took the law into his own hands and immediately begin honking his horn to signal to the officer that he needed to pull over.
When the officer approached the vehicle he was markedly irritated by the fact that Miner confronted him about his cell phone use and the high rate of speed at which his vehicle was traveling on a wet road.
Rather than admitting any fault initially the officer immediately began investigating potential violations that Miner may have committed, including speeding and “unlawful use of horn.”
The interaction between the two got slightly heated before Miner advised the officer that his camera was capturing the entire conversation.
This is what happens when the police know they are being recorded.
Officer: You pulled me over with your horn… I don’t know what that was about.
Miner: Because you were speeding and had your cellphone in your hand
Officer: Police officers can actually use technology when we’re driving. We’re exempt.
Miner: Oh, so you guys are above the law?
Officer: How fast were you driving?
Miner: You passed me. How fast were you driving? Are you above the speed limit as well?
Officer: Something I want to explain to you. When you use your horn when there’s no good reason to…
Miner: There was a good reason to. You were speeding… on a wet road. You were speeding with a cell phone in your hand.
Officer: You’re going to get a ticket for unlawful use of horn.
The officer then asked Miner to stay in his vehicle while he did an investigation.
Upon his return, his attitude towards Miner had changed dramatically.
Rather than being confrontational, he advised Miner that he wouldn’t be writing a ticket, and he even went so far as to perform an inspection that showed no red flags in an effort to make Miner “look good” for his company.
Imagine how the scenario would have played out had Miner pulled the officer over without video evidence of the interaction. Not only would he have gotten that ticket for unlawfully using his horn, but there could have been a host of other infractions stacked on top of it.
Despite the fact that a recent U.S. Circuit Court ruling found that average citizens with handheld cameras are within their First Amendment rights to record the activities of police officers and government agents when they are working in a public capacity, people are still being arrested for recording cops.
But, as Miner’s video shows, the public has an interest in making a digital record of police interactions. It not only prevents gross violations of civil rights and trumped up charges, but creates a citizen-driven transparency, something that was nearly non-existent just a few years ago.
The much touted transparency promised to Americans by the Obama Administration doesn’t require government oversight. It simply requires public oversight, as Americans with cell phones are more than happy to record, share and distribute legally recorded videos of public officials performing their duties.