Home News Baiting Police: The real purpose behind filming government installations

Baiting Police: The real purpose behind filming government installations


It’s become quite prevalent on the internet lately – people with cell phone cameras confronting police or military personnel outside government installations, for no other apparent reason than to get a rise out of them.

One of the more recent instances occurred back on August 26, when a man standing in a Tampa park started videotaping MacDill AFB. Someone at the base reportedly contacted the Tampa Police Department to have an officer come and check out the situation.

That’s when things got out of hand. The man behind the camera gets into a heated argument with the officer. They both start to hurl insults at one another.

The question the camera holders always seem to ask is: “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” Their argument: It’s certainly not illegal to videotape a government installation.

In this case the officer says, “You’re definitely being detained.”

“What law did I break,” the man asks.

The officer demands to know why the man is there filming a military installation. They go back and forth for a while repeating the same phrases: “Why can’t I?” and “Why are you?”

Attorney Luke Lirot told News Channel 8, it is not illegal to videotape a military base. “I think from a general analysis, videotaping any government installation, any government person would be protected by the first amendment,” he said.

More and more people seem to be targeting military bases and police barracks, to film these so-called “First Amendment Audits.”

Police department spokesperson Steve Hegarty stated,” It has become more frequent because … it’s easier than ever to capture anything on video, and that video has a life on YouTube and it captures interest among TV reporters.”

And apparently these people have a right to test the officers’ restraint and their knowledge of the Constitution.

Lirot said, if the officer was called out there by MacDill…. “I mean he’s responding to a call from a third party, another government agency. I think he behaved properly, there was no arrest made, there was no physical restraint, there was never any kind of physical contact.”

The big question that many are asking now is whether the actions of these individuals, who are filming, are considered baiting. It’s one thing to exercise your rights, but when you’re getting in the way just for the sake of recording a confrontation – one might think there should be some repercussions.

However, in this incident with the Tampa police officer, officials determined at the end of the video that the man did not violate any laws.

Another question authorities are trying to answer now: was the man illegally detained or not. He apparently did not file a complaint with TPD. Tampa’s police chief has initiated an internal affairs investigation into the matter.

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  1. Are you kidding me? Of course we have the right to audit public employees. If one of your officers doesn’t understand the most basic concepts of Terry v Ohio, wouldn’t you want to know? Actually, my question at that point is why don’t you know, and why is someone like that working for you? Do you not train officers on the basic rights of citizens at the academy? Police ‘bait’ criminals all the time. Every. freakin. day. So why is it any different?

    Do some actual research if you want to play journalist; look up the videos where officers do everything right. Not only do the auditors usually give credit for that, they rarely go back to that department. So even if you don’t believe this is a genuine attempt to weed out the corrupt officers and support the good ones, at least recognize what any child would: that if you at least pretend to respect our rights, you won’t have to deal with these people. If there are no rights violations, there will be no content, and most will go find something else to do.

    Obviously there are those who are out to get a rise and go to far to the point that they interfere with a scene or insult the officers to get a reaction. Those are exactly the fringe element they sound like. In this video though, the officer threw insults every bit as hard as the cameraman, and without any real provocation. Is that what you people consider professional?

    • The problem is, the auditors don’t know the specific history of the areas they are auditing. Research on this would be beneficial. In one case in particular A US Army Reserve base was audited, whereas there was recently an attempt to illegally gain access, and this started with someone taking photographs of the front gate. The Soldiers didn’t handle the situation as they should, but given recent events, I think some understanding should be warranted.

  2. The real purpose is to do a legal activity and be left alone. Police themselves use ‘baiting’ tactics all the time, such as for car theft by using an unlocked car with the keys inside or undercover police employees in prostitution stings. their entire argument is that it is up to the criminal to do things that would be illegal. So someone doing an audit is merely doing a completely legal activity, so why do the police feel they are baited? When what the person is doing is in every sense legal, then what exactly is the supposed ‘bait’?

    “I think he behaved properly, there was no arrest made, there was no physical restraint, there was never any kind of physical contact.””
    Why does this police employee think that something has to be done to the extreme for it to be wrong in the first place? Just the act of harassing the citizen in itself was enough. the responding police employee could have ascertained quickly that nothing illegal was being observed and that would have been the end of it.


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