Philadelphia police get camera shy

    The law allows you to videotape a police officer doing his or her job in a public place, but you’re putting yourself and your cell phone at risk if you do it. At least that’s what you’d have to conclude from this story by the Philadelphia Daily News’ Jan Ransom.

    In a thoroughly-reported article, Ransom has police commanders acknowledging the right to video an arrest in public, and civilians being brutalized and arrested when they do it.

    Here’s how the piece begins:

    Tamera Medly begged the police officer to stop slamming her head – over and over – into the hood of a police cruiser.

    Thinking they were helping, passers-by Shakir Riley and Melissa Hurling both turned their cellphone video cameras toward the melee that had erupted on Jefferson Street in Wynnefield, they said.

    But then the cops turned on them.

    Riley had started to walk away when at least five baton-wielding cops followed him, he said, and they beat him, poured a soda on his face and stomped on his phone, destroying the video he had just taken.

    Far less surprising than the police reactions to videotaping is the Daily News’ decision to run this story in the Saturday paper, when circulation is so light the paper has decided they’ll soon turn it into a sports magazine.

    Ransom is another example of the great young journalistic talent at the Daily News that makes me look forward to my copy every day.

    Ransom had this great Aug. 31 story explaining that one reason City Council is having trouble re-drawing its boundaries is that nobody wants to deal with one powerful and demanding ward leader in Northeast Philly.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.