Fairfield Police Department was one of the latest victims of the First Amendment Auditors, a group of people who visit police stations around the state, videotaping while attempting to provoke negative responses from officers, and then post the videos on YouTube.
In the video taken last week, late at night, footage may be seen of the outside of the police department, signage, patrol units; and then the ‘Auditor’ goes into the public lobby of the police station, continuing to record all the things on the wall, such as awards, and certificates. The whole time he’s recording, he never speaks to the dispatcher at the window.
When he finally turns the camera on her, she tells him not to record her and asks what he needs or if she can get an officer for him. His response is, “no, I’m just recording some things.”
The video continues, moving all around the lobby and then back to the dispatcher, who is visibly upset at this point.
“This suspicious guy walks in, late at night, videoing and not saying a word. She didn’t know if he had a gun or what he was up to,” says Fairfield Chief of Police Kenny Bulger.
It was at this point the dispatcher made a call for an officer to come to the station.
When Officer Rodney Price arrives, the man is outside again, continuing to video, and begins to walk away when Officer Price approaches him.
Officer Price asks to speak to him and when asked his name, for identification and what he was doing there, the man refused to reveal anything. Saying, “I can’t tell you. It’s just a project I’m working on.”
The man is asked to leave and Officer Price goes into the station.
A few minutes later, you see a woman walk up, saying she needs to ask the man a question; and he tells her, “Oh, I’m not a cop. You’ll have to go in there and talk to them.”
The woman proceeds to go into the lobby of the station and he follows her inside, continuing to record.
Officer Price is speaking with the lady who is asking about doing a custody swap in the parking lot as a safe place; at which point, Officer Price tells the man he needs to leave because he is violating the woman’s personal and civil rights.
The man says repeatedly in response, “but this is a public place, a public lobby, anyone is allowed to be in here.”
This is when Officer Price takes the man’s arm and escorts him to the door. The man’s reaction is to raise his voice saying, “Don’t touch me! Take your hands off me! Don’t close my foot in the door!”
The video footage of the station ends and a voiceover is heard saying that this should be considered a “Tyrant Alert” and calls for viewers to respond accordingly.
“We have been bombarded with emails and calls, complaining about the dispatcher and Officer Price,” explains Chief Bulger. “A lobby is a public area, and the officer should have taken the lady to a private area if it was an issue. All officers and city personnel have been educated as to where the public is allowed, and where they are not.”
“Legally, Officer Price could have arrested the man for refusing to give his information and ID when detained, but he chose not to do so,” he concludes.
Neither the man, nor the PD, has filed charges on the other.