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Officer Reprimanded for Threatening Videotaping Cyclist With Arrest

Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson has issued a statement confirming that "the public has a right to record the activities of their police..."

A officer who for videotaping him during a traffic stop has received a written reprimand for his actions.

In an emailed statement to Redmond Patch, Police Chief Ron Gibson said a 30-day internal investigation determined Officer Bill Corson was out of line when he told the cyclist, Stephen Kent of Seattle, that he did not have a legal right to record their interaction.

"The Redmond Police Department recognizes that citizens may record or photograph police activities in public as long as they remain at a reasonable distance, don’t interfere with the employee’s duties and responsibilities, and do not create a safety concern for the employee, person detained, or other persons," Gibson wrote. "The Redmond Police Department acknowledges the public has a right to record the activities of their police and that we are subject to public scrutiny as we carry out our duties to the citizens of Redmond."

Kent said he was riding his bicycle with two other friends on Cleveland Street one afternoon last May when the group was stopped by Corson for impeding traffic. The cyclist said he immediately began recording the encounter using a cell phone app but was ordered to stop and threatened with arrest.

In a video Kent posted to YouTube (also attached to this post), Corson is heard saying "if you record me, I'll arrest you...if you do this one second longer, you're violating a law in this state."

Gibson said Corson's actions violated two sections of the department's Manual of Standards, one that "requires that officers be familiar with and maintain a working knowledge of laws and ordinances which apply to their job function" and another that "requires officers taking enforcement action will do so within the limits of law, city charter, state constitution, U.S. Constitution and standards adopted by the Department."

Gibson said Corson, a 21-year veteran of the department with "no other sustained allegations of misconduct in his disciplinary record," received a written reprimand for his actions. Members of the department underwent additional training on video and audio recording laws as a result of the incident, Gibson said.

"This incident has provided us with an opportunity to provide better service to our community," Gibson wrote. "As a department, we are committed to protecting the individual rights of all of our citizens."

Peter H July 04, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Bravo, Redmond police department! It is very nice to see the police taking their responsibility to uphold freedom this seriously.
Joe July 04, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Thanks, Redmond Patch, for the follow-up, and kudos to the Redmond Department for their professionalism in handling this. While I am glad to learn that the bicyclist was within his rights (to video the encounter) and that we the public, by extension, have similar rights, I do sympathize with officer Corson and all the other officers out there: there are so many laws and ordinances, I do not think it is reasonable to expect people, even officers, to know them all. Corson went over the line, so the reprimand is justified, and I believe he learned his lesson. Hopefully this incident doesn't damage his otherwise good career because that would not be fair.
Automatic October 23, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Was the cyclist one of those douches who rides in the middle of the road and slow down the whole lane? He shoulda still be arrested.

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