LEO Discretion and Video?


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rhubarb
June 27, 2005, 05:03 PM
For the sake of this post I am assuming that LEOs have some discretion in citing people who are technically in violation of the law. A specific example is carrying a handgun in a car in Texas. Until HB823 goes into effect Sept. 1, it is illegal to carry a handgun in a car except under specific circumstances. You are an LEO and you stopped someone in the evening and found out that they had carried a handgun with them to work to go shoot at lunch, and are now on the way home at the end of the day. Under current law, they are illegally carrying a handgun. You believe the story and do not believe this person to be a threat to anyone. You know that in two months, a change in the law will go into effect that makes this behavior legal. Presumably, you have discretion to allow the person to go on his or her way without any penalty. I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of applicable scenarios for the officer’s discretion.

Question is, does the fact that there is a video camera on your dash with audio on your person affect your decision? Does a superior review your video even when there are no incidents to cause review? If you did use discretion in a case like this, would you ever report it?

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Fly320s
June 27, 2005, 10:20 PM
Giving it a bumb, Rhubarb, since I'm curious, too.

fastbolt
June 27, 2005, 10:29 PM
Depending on the state & locality ... agency policy ... spirit-of-the-law versus letter-of-the-law issues and considerations ...

... There's often some leeway and individual discretion permitted when it comes to suspected violations, and whether they are considered may arrest, versus shall arrest, situations ...

Obviously, prejudice and personal bias of any sort shouldn't influence these decisions ... but I'd imagine that somewhere, everyday, there's always someone that doesn't use common sense and good judgment.;)

I don't have any answers for you ...

Deavis
June 27, 2005, 10:40 PM
hey man, clarify your post a little bit.

they had carried a handgun with them to work to go shoot at lunch, and are now on the way home at the end of the day. Under current law, they are illegally carrying a handgun.

There is nothing illegal about "carrying" a handgun to go shooting in Texas. You need to define carrying because it is ambigous. If someone went to the range with a handgun to practice, it doesn't make sense that they would be actually carrying the weapon, i.e. on or about your person, for the single incident. More likely they have it in the case in an unreachable place as most people know is the law. They are still "carrying" it however it is not on or about their person, the criteria for it being concealed.

However, if they had it on or about their person all the time, a more realistic situation, then there would be an issue. So, clarify and ask again. I think you mean to say, "If I illegaly concealed a handgun and told the LEO, would he bust me for doing something that I know is illegal?"

rhubarb
June 27, 2005, 11:55 PM
The question is really not about carrying a gun, but I'll clarify the example. As I understand the law, you may carry a handgun directly to and from the range without undue delay. To carry first to work, then to the range, then back to work, and finally to your residence is a no-no. But that's not the question. It's only an example of a case an LEO might encounter.

The question is about whether the in-car video affects an officer's decision to cite someone in a case where they might not have written a citation. Does the fact that there is, in effect, someone looking over your shoulder as you are on patrol affect your decisions?

Derby FALs
June 28, 2005, 12:45 AM
You mean you can't just carry it loaded, in the glovebox, down there in Texas? :neener:

Harve Curry
June 28, 2005, 10:02 AM
Rhubarb,
Good question. The silence of replies from LEO's should answer your question.

LawDog
June 28, 2005, 12:18 PM
I don't know about the rest of the LEO's, but you can take my silence on this subject to mean that I'm sick and tired of the LEO bashing around here, and I will be damned if I'm going to write something just so someone can jump up and scream, "Nazi!"

LawDog

Johnnybgood
June 28, 2005, 12:29 PM
I think the anti-police sentiment I read and hear so much is fostered by our Media. Only time your hear anything about the police is when someone screws up. You don't hear much about all the good they do. Sound familiar? Let's give them a break, what say?

rock jock
June 28, 2005, 12:32 PM
Get your CHL and you can carry twenty handguns on your person if you are so inclined.

MechAg94
June 28, 2005, 12:43 PM
Pre-CHL, I was always told that you could carry a gun to and from the location of use as long as you did not unnecessarily deviate from that purpose, and the gun could not be in easy reach (including the back seat). It was also better to keep the guns unloaded and locked up. Handguns were more scrutinized than long arms. I think this explanation would make carrying it to work first a technical violation at least the way the law was written and interpreted.

I can't remember where I picked this up. I have never actually been pulled over while carrying a gun before or after getting my CHL. Nor have I ever had my car searched. I think a lot of the variability was with the officer and with the behavior of the driver. People always forget about the driver's behavior. Please don't take me to be an expert by any means. I don't have to worry about this anymore.

GunGoBoom
June 28, 2005, 12:55 PM
I seriously doubt that supervisors have time to sit around all day reviewing dash videos - therefore, I'm quite sure the full exercise of an officer's discretion is still 100% at play, as it's always been, for better or worse. If there's no incident or later a contested matter/trial pursuant to the stop, the tape will simply get archived or perhaps even just erased over.

scbair
June 28, 2005, 01:14 PM
Well, it's been a few years, but . . .

In my LEO days, discretion was not only tolerated, it was demanded! Darned if I had time to waste with paperwork & hassle pertaining to someone who wasn't a "bad guy" (except for speeding & red light cases, of course :rolleyes: ).

Actual case: An armed robbery occurred; radio broadcast provided general desctiption of suspect, who fled on foot, right down to the "green military jacket" he wore. About a half-mile away, as I patrolled a really high-crime neighborhood, I espy an individual matching that description, walking from the direction of the robbery, along the railroad track. The radio broaddcast had warned that the suspect had brandished a handgun during the robbery.

I stopped & searched the track-walker; lo and behold, a .38 Special revolver in his coat pocket ( I was impressed; he also seemed impressed by my .357 :D ).

YEEHAW! Felony bust! I took the suspect to the scene of the crime, where I learned the robber was younger, taller, and was wearing a field jacket, not an olive drab military overcoat.

I ran a check on my guy; 40 years old, clean record; no criminal history at all! I asked him what he was doing wandering around with a revolver in his pocket. He looked me in the eye, explained he had walked to the convenience store for some cigarettes, and asked me if I would walk through that neighborhood without MY revolver.

I drove him to his door, returned his (already unloaded) revolver (and the ammo!), and let him go. Of course, bein' a good ol' boy in Dixie, I imagine my perspective would differ from some big-city LEO's . . .

Henry Bowman
June 28, 2005, 01:29 PM
How is this LEO bashing? He asked a simple and legitimate question:Question is, does the fact that there is a video camera on your dash with audio on your person affect your decision [i.e., discretion]? Well, do you feel that you have less discretion now that all of your interaction is video/audio taped? I think I would feel so.

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