Do Police Officers Have the Right to Expect Privacy?

data-privacyIn a world where technology is slowly eroding our privacy and making everything we do or say more accessible to the general public, taking the fact you have at least some rights to privacy for granted may longer be good enough. From CCTV traffic monitors to body and dash cams, and of course the ubiquitous smartphone with a built-in camera, it seems as though every time a member of law enforcement makes a move, someone should be shouting, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera” for those who remember the old television show.

Nothing to Hide
There is an old saying that goes, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.” As members of law enforcement, this is perfectly true, as long as you are always acting in a professional manner and doing your job within all aspects of the laws of the land. With this in mind, what can you possibly have to worry about when a member of the public starts to film you.

The only time filming like this should be of concern is if the person doing so is getting in your way and preventing you from doing your job. If you spend any time at all worrying about the fact you don’t like being filmed or about any derogatory remarks the person might be making, this simply takes you away from the job at hand, possible delaying you or causing other issues.

Back to the Question
So, back to the question at hand, do you, as a law enforcement officer, have any right to privacy while you are actively doing your job in public? The reality of this question lies in the last two words of the previous sentence. You are public servants and working directly in the eye of the public, thus the public does have an inane right to record your actions. After all, we can record the actions of anyone sitting in the back of the patrol car without their permission or directly on your body cam. If criminals don’t legally have to give permission to be recorded, then perhaps police officers shouldn’t have to give permission either.

The reality of this situation is that as public servants, police officers are expected to behave in a certain “professional” manner on the job. Those that behave in this manner, have absolutely nothing to fear from being recorded by members of the public or for that matter fellow officers. Those that step outside of these parameters, on the other hand, are likely the only ones who are getting upset.

The general public understands that in today’s climate, law enforcement officers have an extremely tough job to do, yet at the same time they also know that you are not being forced to do the job. To be sure there is always going to be a small percentage of people who are disgruntled at the police and will do everything they can to catch officers behaving in an unfit manner. When you lead a very public life, much like all the Hollywood stars who get photographed and videotaped, you need to understand your rights to privacy on the job are very limited if at all.

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