Justice

How One Man's Using His Camera to Take Police Reform Into His Own Hands

March 2nd 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

The behavior, training, and accountability of police officers are a popular and controversial topic of discussion for the American public and policy makers. One soldier in the U.S. Army is tackling police accountability on his own, and he's doing it by taking some simple photos of the Miami, Florida, streets.

police car

Glen Carr told Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times that he takes dozens of pictures of illegally-parked police cars almost every day near the Miami-Dade County Courthouse.

"It's not like I'm against them. I just want them to be better at what they do," Carr told the Times. "I feel they don't hold each other accountable."

The 40-year-old active duty Army Major said he's used the pictures to file more than 125 complaints. The Civilian Investigative Panel in Miami, an independent panel that investigates police use of force, policies and practices, acknowledged to ATTN: that it investigated Carr's complaints and hearings are still pending for the most recent ones.

Why should anyone care about minor parking violations?

Police handcuffs.

Carr said that the lack of accountability for small parking violations ties to a larger problem of police accountability. He got the idea to start taking pictures, when two police cars with no lights sped by his daughter at extremely high speeds as he was teaching her how to drive a few years ago.

"If a police officer is parking in a handicapped spot or in front of a fire hydrant because he's running late," he told the Times, "then what else is he doing wrong?"

Carr is not the first citizen to take pictures of police vehicles.

Cyclists in New York City have been using a similar approach to Carr for a few years. Since 2014, the blog "Cops in Bike Lanes" had featured pictures of New York Police Department (NYPD) cruisers parked in the lanes reserved for them.

"Cops in Bike Lanes"

Cars, trash cans, or any objects in bike lanes can be a danger for bikers who could hit them or swerve into traffic to get out of the way.

“I know parking can be a pain in New York, but for crying out loud, don’t do it in a bike lane,” the blog’s unnamed founder, told the New York Daily News in 2014.

You have the right to take pictures and videos of the police.

police-officer

Michael Avery, professor emeritus at Suffolk Law School and former president of the National Police Accountability Project, told ATTN: that although parking violations are relatively minor offenses that citizens' pictures and videos of the police are an important aspect of keeping them accountable. He said citizens have the right to photograph and record cops as long as they aren't obstructing officers' duties.

"People have the right to take pictures of police and police cars and they have a right to do it while police are performing their duties," he said.

Avery started practicing law in the 1970s, saying, there's "no question" that the popularity of cell phones with picture and video capabilities have affected cases involving police officers.

He went on to add: "The fact that everybody is walking around with a camera in their pocket now because of smart phones, and there's so much video coverage of what police do, I think that's one of the things that's raised awareness about police accountability."

RELATED: Do Body Cameras Increase Police Accountability?