Nassau County has hired a police ethics consultant in the wake of a videotaped beating by officers of a Westbury man. According to acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, ” this is all about building trust with the community,” Last year, Mr. Krumpter’s predecessor was forced to resign over what was alleged to be a politically motivated arrest. Nassau County legislators approved a $675,000 contract with Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a Washington D.C. based research group, which will suggest policies and issue a report. According to its web site, this organisation, which was founded in 1976, is a “police research and policy organization and a provider of management services, technical assistance, and executive-level education to support law enforcement agencies. PERF helps to improve the delivery of police services through the exercise of strong national leadership; public debate of police and criminal justice issues; and research and policy development.” On Monday, criminal charges were dismissed against Kyle Howell, the man recently seen on video being beaten by members of the Nassau County Police Department. Mr. Howell had been facing various charges, including assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, and drug possession. Mr. Howell plans to bring a lawsuit against Nassau County. The increasing prevalence of cell phone cameras and surveillance video over the past decade have placed police officers throughout the country under far greater scrutiny. In the old days, police brutality claims made by an alleged criminal were often disregarded due to lack of objective evidence. These videos are now providing corroboration. Some juridictions have laws on the books making it a crime to record or videotape the police. These laws are based on illegal wiretapping theories. However, courts throughout the country have ruled that citizens have a first amendment right to videotape police, but that right is not unlimited. This area of law is evolving quickly, so if you plan on doing your own videotaping, it would be a good idea to check the laws in your jurisdiction before engaging in this practice.
This article is not intended as legal advice. If you have a current or potential legal issue involving the topics discussed here, seek the assistance of an attorney. This article is intended for informational purposes only.