Local police experiencing backlash of national negativity, especially last weekend.

June 25, 2015

mcso_cruiser_k9By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

National exposure to events that have portrayed law enforcement in a negative light have influenced some recent interactions local law enforcement has had with the public, particularly over the past weekend. Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole said it’s fairly common place nowadays for police officers to be recorded on video camera, but, he said local law enforcement officers found themselves being frequently questioned and also being harassed by an area hotel employee last weekend. The sheriff said while the public has the right to record, there are boundaries that need to be observed.

“Our deputies are video taped every day,” Sheriff Cole said. “They pretty much expect it. I respect the public’s right to record but I also expect the public to be conscious of the job our officers need to do. When video recording interferes with an officer’s job then a line has been crossed. This is also true when an officer is interrupted in any way by someone when he or she is trying to do their job.”

This was the case at the Baymont Inn of Amber Township over the weekend. Sheriff Cole said a sheriff deputy was conducting a traffic stop and the subject pulled his vehicle into the hotel parking lot. While the officer was in the process of arresting the person, a hotel employee came outside and asked the deputy to leave, Cole said.

“The deputy had to now take his attention away from the job of arresting a person and deal with the person who was interfering with the arrest,” Cole said. “This puts the deputy at an extreme risk and also puts the public at risk. After the deputy said he wasn’t going to leave, the employee left and then came back with another person, who again interrupted the deputy’s duty. This person then told the deputy that having his vehicle in the parking lot was bad for business.”

Cole said there were other incidences in the City of Ludington where the public expressed a heightened suspicion of police activity.

“We had a unit respond to a bar to back up Ludington Police Department. The subject was literally thrown out of the bar by a bouncer. A city police officer came over to the guy to help him up and to see if he was OK. At that moment, video cameras were immediately pulled out and the officer’s interaction with the subject was immediately recorded. That is certainly their right, but also that same night citizens came up to police officers demanding that the police move their vehicles from the street. Our officers and deputies are doing their jobs and doing it within the confines of the law.

“Do people not remember September 9, 2013 when a Michigan State Police trooper, Paul Butterfield, was murdered in this county?” Cole asked. “Our local law enforcement would put their lives on the line to protect the people of this county. I watched a video recently of an arrest in New York City. It was being video recorded by multiple people and showed people actually coming up to police officers and attacking them while they were attempting to make an arrest. These officers were of multiple races. At one point, a woman attempted to grab one of the officer’s holstered sidearm. This is crossing the line.”

Cole said a few weeks ago, a deputy had pulled over a driver in the Custer area for speeding. At some point during the stop, after the deputy had checked the man’s records, they ended up both standing along the road and were sharing a story and a laugh together. “A woman pulled up several feet behind them, got out of her vehicle and began recording the interaction,” Cole said. “The man who was pulled over actually got upset and started asking the woman why she was recording them. He asked her to stop but she refused.”

Cole said while the woman was within her rights to video record in public, people doing such things need to really question what their motivation is. They also need to follow the law themselves.

“The law enforcement officers in this county are good people. Scottville police, Ludington police, state police and the sheriff’s office. These are men and women who are out there everyday trying to keep the public safe. There is always going to be a certain percentage of the population that does not like or does not trust the police. But, we are thankful for the majority who recognize what we do and the risks we take. I am just asking that the public be conscious of the job at hand.”