Law enforcement cannot legally stop public’s recording – former police

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A former senior police officer said that law enforcement agents are breaching the law when they stop people from recording incidents on their phones and cameras. Eric Henry’s statement followed complaints by members of the public who claimed that they attempted to film a drug bust that went down on the Sir George Walter Highway, with heavily armed law enforcement officers who were wearing masks, on Wednesday. Those attempting to film the bust claimed that they were instructed by the agents to stop.
Henry said that neither the police, nor any law enforcement agency has the authority to stop anyone from filming something transpiring in public. “As far as I know, except they made an amendment to the law, no police or law enforcement agency has the authority. They do it with some level of impunity and they are wrong. People have WhatsApp on their phones and police say shut it down. Some police go as far as taking it away, but, it cannot be legally done,” Henry said.
The former prison boss said that it is a region-wide issue he has observed. “It is a Caribbean thing. In Trinidad and Barbados, they [law enforcement agents are] pulling away people’s cameras and retaining them. It can be done, but, not legally,” he added. Panic erupted at the junction of Sir George Walter Highway and Old Parham Road on Wednesday afternoon, when heavily armed men, who were wearing helmets and ski masks, which fully covered their faces and necks, intercepted an SUV under the traffic light.
The armed masked people had markings at the back of their coveralls that suggested they work with the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) The heavily tinted pickup truck the officers emerged from did not display a licence plate. Commuters and pedestrians who were close by and who were caught offguard by the operation that netted over $11 million worth of cocaine, reported that they tried to film the operation and were told to put away their recording devices.
For those who feel that any law enforcement agent abused his or her authority by confiscating or damaging an onlookers filming device, or stopping an onlooker from filming anything in a public space, he or she can seek redress in our courts. Henry served as head of security at the V. C. Bird International Airport for 10 years, starting in 1975. Immediately after, he has a 10-year tenure as superintendent of the prisons. The former senior officer also did a stint at the Ministry of Health before returning to HMP in November 2006. He retired in 2009.

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