About a week ago this little meme from CopBlock rolled across my Facebook feed. The advice the anti-police movement was trying to give was for citizens to call 911 any time a police officer pulls you over. This image was accompanied by a few paragraphs of text explaining why all citizens needed to do this.The many reason cop-block felt you should call 911 was so there would be an unbias recording of the traffic stop. Thier logic was that police department could edit any dash camera or body camera footage. At the same time, cops would accuse citizens of editing any recording made by citizens. Thus, the audio recording made of all 911 calls would be an unbias third party recording.
NEWS FLASH for the cop-block folks… most 911 dispatch centers are run by the police department or sheriff’s office. So what would make the video/audio from a police body camera more likely to be edited compared to the audio at the police comm center? Did they even consider where 911 calls go when they thought up this brilliant advice?
Next is the whole issue of calling 911 at a traffic stop. 911 is a number reserved for emergency situations. When you are in violation of a traffic law and an officer pulls you over it is not an emergency. Locally our statutes state a 911 call is for ” a situation in which property or human life are in jeopardy and the prompt summoning of aid is essential.” Note the term “summoning of aid”, as in getting cops/EMS/Fire to come to you. Recording a call is not a “summoning of aid”.
Keep in mind we have limited resources in our comm center. Only so many physical phone lines and people at workstations able to talk on the phones. We can not tie up resources to record some voices. Typically only two people are on shift at my dispatch center. If one is busy dealing with a cop-block phone call, what happens when a real true life & death emergency comes in?
Over the last week, I talked to a few of our patrol supervisors. All of them agreed. If one of our dispatchers said someone called 911 asking to record the stop, the supervisor would ask the patrol officer on the stop to issue a misue-of-911 citation in addition to the traffic violation. I happen to also stop into our comm center. The manager for all our 911-call takers echoed that statement of asking for the 911 abuse ticket.
Finally, when I saw the city attorney, he had an interesting insight. First he agreed the caller should get a ticket for the improper use of 911. The he added this tidbit, his opinion was Cop-Block followers should file a civil lawsuit aginst the person posting the meme for giving legal advice that resulted harm (legal malpractice).
Plese note to anyone reading this. Yes, there are some folks out there who impersonate a police officer and pull people over in fake looking squad cars and fake looking uniforms. If you have any question if a police officer is real or fake please yes call 911 to verify if the officer is real. Our Police officers and Dispatchers all agree we rather see you safe. Verification of an impersonator is very different than audio recording the traffic stop.
So as you can see. Once again the folks at Cop-Block try to act like a force that can intimidate police in hopes we will not enforce the law. Yet at the end of the day their advice is more likely to cause a citizen more grief than good.