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The Call to Defund the Police: What Does It Mean?

The Call to Defund the Police: What Does It Mean?

The death of George Floyd, a black gentleman killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, sparked frustration and outrage in communities all over the world. Protestors, communities, and families are demanding an end to brutality, misconduct, and racial profiling by the police. In the past, police reform efforts included implicit bias and de-escalation training for officers, mandatory body cameras, increased community outreach, and new use-of-force policies. But, for many, these efforts have failed—completely. And now people are demanding more than…

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Federal Ruling Muddies the Law on Recording the Police

Federal Ruling Muddies the Law on Recording the Police

Update: In July of 2017 a federal court reversed the decision described below. See our post on the reversal. — Constitutional and criminal law are littered with nuances  and vagaries. But at least we’ve got a basic, First-Amendment rule on recording the police. To summarize: Almost every court to consider the issue has determined that the First Amendment gives you the right to record (pictures, video, and audio) an officer in public while he is performing his duties. But that doesn’t mean…

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Police Officers Can’t Search Hotel Records on Demand, but What Does That Mean?

Police Officers Can’t Search Hotel Records on Demand, but What Does That Mean?

On June 22, 2015, in Los Angeles v. Patel, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that cops can’t rummage through hotel records whenever they want. (576 U.S. ___ (2015).) The opinion, framed in terms of the hotel’s privacy interest rather than that of its guests, nixed part of a Los Angeles Municipal Code section. The code section in question mandated that hotel and motel operators (1) maintain certain records about their guests and (2) allow police officers to inspect those records on…

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