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Rockville Man Arrested While Video Recording Police During Traffic Stop

Jared Parr posted video of the encounter on YouTube.

A Rockville video blogger made news  last week after his attempt to record police officers who stopped him took a turn for the worse.

Jared Parr, the 25-year-old creator of the YouTube channel Rockville CopWatch, was pulled over by Montgomery County Police on Jan. 15.

Parr told WJLA on Thursday that the police officers tried to intimidate him after they learned he was recording the interaction. 

What’s in the video

Parr’s video was posted to YouTube on Feb. 15 and had more than 4,000 views as of Friday evening.  He has posted 12 videos on the channel since July 2011.

The first portion of the clip is blacked out and audio-only. There's actually no sound until about one-minute into the footage. It's not too long before the police officer in the clip notices he’s being recorded:

Police: You’re not allowed to do that. That’s against the law to audio record without my permission.”

Two minutes into the clip—after some verbal back and forth between the officer and Parr—two officers appear on the screen. Parr eventually gets out of the car and after some jumpy, incoherrent footage, the video clip cuts off abruptly.

Was Parr right?

Despite his pleadings and claims that police were infringing on his rights, Parr was arrested on charges of obstructing and hindering, according to court records accessed online.

A Montgomery County Police spokesman told WJLA that the police officer was wrong to tell Parr that he couldn’t record “because department policy tells officers anyone has the right to record them while in public.”

In 2010, a judge ruled that Maryland’s wiretapping law, “does not protect discussions between police officers and civilians that take place in public sight, such as a traffic stop for a making a right turn on a red light when it's not allowed,” according to DCist, which also picked up this story.

Speak out: Do you agree with Parr? Please post your comments below.

Richard Boltuck March 03, 2013 at 04:22 PM
I agree (and commented more extensively about why, below). For more information about how systematic the abuse of those who record encounters with the police has been across the United States in recent years (including third-party photograhers/videographers who are not party to the original encounter), see the extensive documentation here: http://www.photographyisnotacrime.com/ For details of another brave Marylander, Anthony Graber, who stood up for his rights in a very similar situation, and how police entered his home, confiscated his property, and threw him in a cell before a court upheld his right to have recorded the police, confirming he had never violated any law in doing so, see: http://www.photographyisnotacrime.com/2010/04/16/motorcyclist-jailed-for-26-hours-for-videotaping-gun-wielding-cop/
Thomas Nephew March 03, 2013 at 04:56 PM
"let police do their job" -- That's just it, Ms. J. I'm perfectly happy to let police do stuff that's their job. I'm not happy to let them do stuff that is *not* their job, like random stops or telling people to turn off their camera.
Elizabeth Anthony March 03, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Hey Marsha how about you get off your high horse. There is nothing wrong with public school. In fact, Montgomery County is a leader in public school education. Let me guess you live in "North" Potomac? Sorry, I mean Gaithersburg.
Harry Callahan March 03, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Bravo Mr. Parr! You would think that by now most sworn officers would know that everything they do is open to strict public scrutiny. And being recorded both in video and audio formats is an EXTREMELY MINOR hazard of that job. I hope that both of these "public servants" are fired and that Mr. Parr files a lawsuit against both Mongomery County and the officers for their blatant violation of his rights. For everyone who speaks on the side of the police involved in this incident, I would ask, at what point do you draw the line when you expect the police to follow both the law and accepted and published police department policy? Maybe the next time these two officers have a similar encounter with Mr. Parr or with YOU, maybe it would be OK for them to fire a few warning shots into the car to "teach the citizen some respect for the officer's high office and authority." Do you think that would be OK? Wake up America and hold the feet of your elected "servants" of the people to the fire and DEMAND that our rights are respected by all sworn officers of the law.
Richard Boltuck March 03, 2013 at 06:13 PM
This poor, er, fellow has nothing better to do with his time than demand under color of police authority that a CITIZEN stop recording an encounter with the police, even though as a member of the public in Maryland, the citizen is entirely within his rights under law to do so. Where is the rule of law? Are we a nation/state/county of laws, or of men? Are we, perchance, increasingly, a police state?
sp0t March 03, 2013 at 06:30 PM
"Why challenge an officer when you are not doing anything wrong?" Because that is your right. The police have no legal right to detain or question you without cause. If he wasn't doing anything wrong then he should most definitely stand up to the police. With that said, I obviously have no idea whether or not he was really doing anything wrong, I'm just offering an answer to your question.
Richard Boltuck March 03, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Montgomery County police were involved in another high-profile case alleged harassment of an innocent photographer -- which leads me to wonder how any Montgomery County police officer could, today, be unaware of the law: http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/06/14/47450.htm
chessie perrin March 03, 2013 at 07:54 PM
After reading about the situation with Mr.Parr and the officer I think the reason why Mr. Parr was arrested is because the officer was camera-shy and couldn't perform his duties while being filmed and therefore arrested Mr.Parr for obstruction of justice. I agree cops sometimes make up their own laws to suit themselves.
Ralph James March 03, 2013 at 08:05 PM
I live in Rockville also and have been, and at the ripe old age of 54 continue to be, subjected to a renagade police force. But this is not only the Rockville Police, but throw in the local Seven Locks Montgomery County Police and your Capital Area Park Police, we are living in a Police State that is no better than communist China, if not worse. Nobody has the "balls" to confront them. A perfect example is the percentage of local police retiring with a "work related injuries" try 700 times the national average. They have no accountabilty to anyone and that is more than obvious in there behavior. They have harrassed my children, threatened to "FIND" drugs in my house, if I didn't calm down and let them continue there unwarrented actions. Mr. Parr is a local hero and should recieve a key to the city from mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, but that is very unlikely, since like all our local officials, she turns her back to their actions. I will most likely have my home raided in a local search for weapons of mass destruction for writing this reply. Dick, Donald and George, might be gone from Washington, but their legacy is very much alive in the Rockville Area Crime Fighters Society,our very own christian soldiers. Again Mr. Parr keep up the good work and if you want to make a lasting difference run for the city council, I would happily volunteer to be your campange manager. Your platform is the best I have seen in my 24 years as a city resident. Again good luck young MAN.
Laurie TMV March 03, 2013 at 08:11 PM
He was civil, pretty much minding his own business, and unlawfully detained. He broke no laws, and they had no reason to detain him. The police were overstepping their authority. They get to do that because they have guns, right?. With all the unnecessary and excessive violence used many police today, all this man did was to stand up for his rights and at the same protect himself. I would have recorded it too. Good for him! More people need to stand up and stop acting like sheep.
Dan Jenkins March 03, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Remember that Police are courageous public servants deserving of our praise. Take, for example, the recent heroism of Corporal Craig Ream in Howard County, who at great personal risk climbed into a burning, overturned car to rescue an injured driver: http://ellicottcity.patch.com/articles/howard-carroll-county-police-officers-recognized-for-valor When conversations like this arise, we must ask how we can best create circumstances in which such virtuousness and selflessness is cultivated rather than hindered. Were I a police officer, I would not find the culture of mistrust and constant public scrutiny Mr. Parr is trying to create capable of bringing out the best in me.
Dan Jenkins March 03, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Yes, there are already cameras on patrol cars. Is your claim is that any given YouTube viewer is qualified to evaluate the conduct recorded? Also, do you think that every competently-performing person should "welcome" constant videotaping, or simply that police officers should? If only the latter, why?
Dan Jenkins March 03, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Interesting suggestions, RTB. It occurs to me that every motorist also has the ability to do great harm when poorly trained. Should we also advocate -- no, mandate -- video cameras in every car, to be made available on Youtube to any viewer? School teachers and nurses, too, wield great power, as do the variety of high-level public-sector workers who people Montgomery County. Would our safety be improved if they, too, were accountable to the public in a maximal sort of way, with live-streaming web cams in each office? Let us not forget the incredible influence parents exert on children, who are both valuable in their own right and are themselves an influential source on a variety of others that they encounter. Should all parents have live-streaming web cams in their homes, with the products available for public viewing?
Joe Thomas March 03, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Here is an interesting post. I can't reply to it directly because there is no "reply button". Ralph James 3:05 pm on Sunday, March 3, 2013 I live in Rockville also and have been, and at the ripe old age of 54 continue to be, subjected to a renagade police force. But this is not only the Rockville Police, but throw in the local Seven Locks Montgomery County Police and your Capital Area Park Police, we are living in a Police State that is no better than communist China, if Can you tell that something is wrong here? There is no departments called "Rockville Police, Seven Locks Police, or Capital Area Park Police. There are Rockville City Police, Montgomery County Police, Rockville District, and the MPPCC police. Is it any wonder that the rest of his post is wacky? How many people here have had the police come to your door and ask to search for drugs? I'd bet no one. The average citizen has 3 interactions with a police officer in his lifetime. This includes asking for directions, being stopped for a traffic violation, being witness to a crime, or being a victim of a crime. So if this fellow had that many interactions that he thinks that the police are persecuting his family then what does it tell you about his family?
Joe Thomas March 03, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Until some bozo walks into your office and tries to video tape you doing your job. Then you would be the first to call the police to have him arrested. Its a wonder that any young person would strive to be a police officer with nearly every person considering them as the enemy.
Dan Jenkins March 03, 2013 at 10:20 PM
RTB, if I understand you correctly, your argument is that the public should have the (unlimited?) ability to record and disseminate recordings of the police in action because some police officers sometimes use coercive force unjustly? As you note, many police cruisers are already outfitted with cameras and these recordings are evaluated internally. Is your suggestion that any given YouTube viewer is better equipped than the Police Department to evaluate this footage? If so, what reasons do you do you have to believe that the process already in place is ill-suited to the task?
Dan Jenkins March 03, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Filming the police might be protected by the First Amendment, but so is the hateful speech of Westboro Baptists, so I'm not sure we can resolve the question by simply noting what case law permits. Perhaps one can, per the Court (openly, not surreptitiously) record the police. Should one do so? There is an argument to made that while some individuals may be helped by such filming, society may suffer because filming generates a culture of mutual distrust. People of character may be deterred from entering the profession, and police may be hesitant to enforce the law. Does this help society as a whole?
Joe Thomas March 04, 2013 at 03:54 AM
Can you give an example of "so many recent cases"?
David S March 04, 2013 at 05:07 AM
Dan I would have to believe that anyone recording safely in a public area would be able to videotape any police officer, meter officer, MTA busdriver, US Postal worker, or other public employee in a public area. The act of recording constantly is not empeding or endangering so is legal. An issue of safety might arise, making an adjustment of where they record from, not what they record.
Dan Jenkins March 04, 2013 at 01:47 PM
No, that would be harassment. I would think it appropriate for any person who is singled out by a civilian for prolonged or repeated filming, whether a public or private employee, to call 911 and file a report, and to use that report to get a restraining order. A tort suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress might also be appropriate in such a case.
denise March 04, 2013 at 02:07 PM
This is America. Rite? Where we have rights. U would never know that by this video. Cops need to learn the law, its their job .
Michelle Gardner March 04, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water and adopt a mob mentality. Everyone makes mistakes on their job. If someone came to your job with a camera explicitly waiting for you to mess up on film, you would not be in a good mood either. However, Jarred Parr is correct, he was not breaking any laws. These officers will hopefully change their stance on this subject. That being said, when you call 911 these are the people who respond to your call for help. I can personally say that in my lifetime they have come to my aid a number of times. Every time they put on their uniform and step out in public they risk their life. How many officers have been killed at routine traffic stops? They have a high stress job. Yes, as with any occupation, there are those that abuse their authority; but I believe there are more who take their oaths to heart and 'serve and protect' because I have met many. Treating all police officers as the enemy is no better than police officers treating all civilians as criminals and adds to their stress level and frustration. If you do not appreciate those who are there to protect us, and try to faithfully carry out their service, how do you expect them to treat you? Yes, by all means hold those accountable who abuse the public trust and violate our rights but by the same token, you must show appreciation for the service of those who risk their lives to serve and protect you. There would be many more videos of officers 'caught' in the latter.
Richard Boltuck March 04, 2013 at 02:20 PM
This absurd encounter with Mr. Parr involved a Montgomery County Police officer. As has been noted in earlier posts, multiple police forces operate within Montgomery County. Here is a 2011 video relating an apology that a citizen received from the Rockville Police regarding an inappropriate demand to show identification that was recorded by the citizen. The PD apologized for having made that demand and assured the citizen steps had been taken to prevent a recurrence. Surely that is evidence that citizen recordings of police encounters can contribute to improvements in police practices, as logic would suggest is the case. (In this incident, the citizen reports that the officer had also demanded that he stop recording, although the department did not apologize or acknowledge error with respect to that demand -- which suggests to me that misinformation -- or worse -- regarding application of the law with respect to recordings made in public venues with no expectation of privacy is possibly widespread, or at least too prevalent, within Montgomery County). Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5_97VA9rfw
Richard Boltuck March 04, 2013 at 02:39 PM
You say that "[t]reating all police officers as the enemy is no better than police officers treating all civilians as criminals and adds to their stress level and frustration." The vast bulk of comments to this article have done no such thing. That is simply a straw man premise. In fact, most commenters are doing exactly what you advise with their criticisms of the officer's conduct in this situation: "by all means hold those accountable who abuse the public trust and violate our rights". That's the point. I'm not sure it's necessary to couch every criticism offered in a pro forma acknowledgement that in general most police officers most of the time are competent, brave, selfless, and perhaps, indispensable. Those points are often made in other, more on-point, contexts.
Michelle Gardner March 04, 2013 at 02:40 PM
@Richard Boltuck; there is a broad stroke in a number of pens in these comments like this one: "...subjected to a renagade police force. But this is not only the Rockville Police, but throw in the local Seven Locks Montgomery County Police and your Capital Area Park Police, we are living in a Police State that is no better than communist China," That's a pretty big leap for one incident involving two specific officers. Don't condemn an entire police force for a single action of two individuals. In addition, I specifically said "Yes, by all means hold those accountable who abuse the public trust and violate our rights" so I did not imply anywhere to 'cut officers slack when they violate a citizen's rights'. I did in fact state the exact opposite.
Richard Boltuck March 04, 2013 at 02:48 PM
I didn't say there were NO comments over the top -- that's pretty typical in comment sections to news articles. I said the vast majority of commenters did not say anything that suggested they believed all police officers are "the enemy". If there are one or two such specific comments, it would be helpful to reference them explicitly so we know what you mean -- otherwise, your original comment appeared, to me at least, to have intended much more general applicability to the character of the discussion and sentiment expressed overwhelmingly here than it in fact ought to have.
B. Sweeney March 04, 2013 at 05:37 PM
I'm not sure, but there seems to be a lot of Police cars with video cameras these days. Hmmmmm...........
fdelapena March 14, 2013 at 04:44 AM
I do know that it is illegal to record audio without the other parties consent, in which case Jared Parr was doing. So he was recording them illegally. However, video recording and photography is allowed by law as long as your are in public. So if anyone is in public, it is fair game to record or be recording/photographed or be photographed. Check this link out if it helps. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_someone_video_tape_you_without_you_knowing_you_are_being_video_recorded
ilkunta June 11, 2013 at 02:06 PM
what was the initial reason that dan was puled over?
Rochelle Dunmore November 08, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Several people questioned why the activities should be able to be recorded and scrutinized by the public while those in other professions do not receive the same treatment. Police officers have the authority to inflict great bodily harm, up to and including the use of deadly force in the performance of their duties. They must employ a significant amount of personal judgment in carrying out their responsibilities, which can lead to the loss of liberty and countless collateral consequences for everyone involved. These men and women must then attempt to set aside the stresses from each incident so they are able to be effective at their jobs without carrying biases from case to case. There are few jobs, if any, that place as much pressure on an individual as being a police officer. Many departments cover up issues rather than dealing with them. Scrutiny is warranted to protect both the officers and the public. --From a law enforcement family

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