Staff member
Supreme Ct. ruled in May 1999 that "media ride-a-longs" violated the 4th amendment
from detroit free press (lexi'd and can't link it)

Detroit Free Press MAY 28, 1999 Friday METRO FINAL EDITION
A Supreme Court decision hailed as a victory for privacy may in the long run be bad for the public.

The court said Monday that police can be sued for letting TV camera crews and other journalists accompany them into homes to observe arrests or searches.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote that the Fourth Amendment right to privacy is violated when police bring third parties into a home when a warrant is executed, unless those people are there to help with police business.

The decision doesn't mean camera crews from "Cops" can't ride along to a raid, they'll just have to stay outside as police kick in the door. But it will discourage police from inviting such coverage and deprive crews of the adrenalin-driven conflict that makes "good TV."

At first blush, the ruling seems to be a legitimate reply to the excesses of tabloid TV journalism. But it undermines an important function of the free and independent press.

The media do the public a service by monitoring the activities of law enforcement. The presence of a camera or notebook can restrain police and civilian behavior. If police raid the wrong house, you can bet the residents would welcome TV cameras. And police and the public are served by citizens seeing the real-life situations that officers face.

The Supreme Court ruling seemed to turn on the wretched excesses that make tabloid television annoying, overlooking the fact that the media play a valuable role as a monitor of public agencies in action.

Just ask Rodney King.
from guardian (lexis'd and can't link it)
June 7, 1999

The end of a beautiful friendship . . .;
The US Supreme Court has decided it's had enough of television crews getting cheap thrills out of following the latest police bust. Duncan Campbell reveals a legal challenge with a British edge

Camera crews looking for an arresting image know that there is nothing like a police raid to provide one. The cries of 'stand back from the door police!', the crunch of splintered hinge and the shot of the dazed subject of the raid, usually only half-dressed, can all add up to what is seen as great television by programme-makers and viewers alike.

The idea of inviting the media on such raids originated in the United States, where letting journalists 'ride-along' has long been accepted. In the early 90s, the practice spread in a big way to Britain where the police also allowed reporters from local television stations and newspapers to see the police in action. The Metropolitan police have used it most frequently on dawn raids connected with Operation Bumblebee, the anti-burglary initiative.

Now a ruling by the Supreme Court in Washington has decided that such raids violate a person's right to privacy, a decision which is forcing a rethink of such television in the United States and may well prompt similar thoughts in Britain.

The unanimous ruling means that camera crews and reporters cannot enter private homes on a police raid without the owners' permission. The decision comes at a time when the appetite for 'tele-verite' real people caught off -guard in real situations has never been higher. One of the latest developments has been 'Adultery TV' in which programme-makers help a wronged spouse to expose their erring partner in the full glare of the camera.

The Supreme Court ruling resulted from two separate cases. In the first, in 1992, federal and local officers had invited the Washington Post to send a reporter and photographer on an operation to catch fugitives. In fact, the wanted man was not at the address and his parents were woken up to find themselves the subject of the raid. Their subsequent legal action was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. In the second case, a CNN camera crew accompanied federal wildlife agents in 1993 on a search of a Montana ranch. The subjects of the raids both sued on the grounds that the presence of the journalists violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment which protects them from unreasonable searches.

'Surely the possibility of good pub lic relations for the police is simply not enough, standing alone, to justify the ride-along intrusion into a private home,' wrote Chief Justice William H Rehnquist in his judgment.

The show seen as most likely to be affected by the ruling is Fox's Cops, where cameras follow the police on raids and arrests. The producers of the programme, which has just celebrated its 400th episode, are considering the ruling but are confident that it will not limit them severely as it does not cover arrests that take place in public.

'Most of what we show happens on the street or in cars,' said John Langley, the executive producer of the programme. He added that the programme always received permission from people shown on camera, even those under arrest.

Journalists have mixed views about the ruling. Barbara Cochran of the Radio -Television News Directors' Association said of the decision: 'This is the latest in several setbacks to the public's right to know.' She argued that part of the problem was that the raids were now being filmed for pure entertainment rather than as part of a news operation. 'We have to admit that some of those ride-alongs had gone Hollywood,' she told a CNN discussion programme on the issue this week. 'But this ruling will have a chilling effect on police inviting journalists along.'

She, like other journalists, says that the presence of the media can have a salutary effect on the police and protect the subject of the arrest. Photojournalist Roger Sandler, who entered OJ Simpson's house at the time of his arrest for double murder, said of the presence of journalists: 'We keep them (the police) on their toes and we keep them at their best.'

In Britain, camera crews have been invited on raids partly to show the public, as in Operation Bumblebee, that something is being done about an area of public concern and partly so that people can see that the police behave correctly on such raids. At first there was considerable media enthusiasm for taking part, but this has waned with their familiarity and the fact that journalists have to get up at around 4.30am to take part.

The decision in Washington is likely to be studied by Elizabeth Neville, the Chief Constable of Wiltshire, who is the chairwoman of the media affairs sub -committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers. She is a strong believer in the public's right to privacy in police matters and has argued against what she sees a creeping media intrusion in some areas. But the police are also aware that series involving real-life action situations have probably enhanced the service's image and generate sympathy for officers in dangerous or delicate situations.

In America, the judgment will also be studied by all those programme-makers who rely on catching people unawares in ways which Candid Camera never envisaged. Adultery TV, where a betrayed person contacts the programme-maker with details of their erring partner, is just the latest manifestation. The TV crew then tracks the philanderer and arranges for the betrayed party to be present at the denouement in, say, a bar or restaurant. Burly minders are present for when the ketchup, real or metaphorical, is spilled. Maybe not the best way to patch up a relationship but terrific for the ratings as Jerry Springer has found in his similarly confrontational shows.

In a number of cities, including Miami and Spokane in Washington, cable television routinely shows prostitutes and their clients as part of a shaming operation to discourage both parties. Vice TV, which is run in Stockton, California, claims to have assisted in cutting prostitution since it started its monthly broadcasts as local customers realise that they appear for their neighbours gratification on television in a highly unflattering way. Now the city council are planning to use cable televisiion to expose bad landlords. The famous Warhol prediction will have to be amended to 'notorious for 15 minutes.'
from miami herald

More than 13 years after hypester Geraldo Rivera came to South Florida and jump-started the cops-on-TV reality shows, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that police violate people's right to privacy when they bring photographers and reporters on house raids.

That creates free-press worries among print and TV journalists, but for reality entertainment shows like Fox's Cops - which piggybacks its cameras onto police raids - the likely reality is it will be shock video as usual.

John Langley, producer of Cops, said he doesn't believe his popular program will be affected, since people caught by his cameras later sign legal releases that give the show permission to use the video.

"While we do not necessarily agree with [the Supreme Court decision] . . . we are unaffected because we obtain releases from everyone involved," Langley said in a written statement.

Although shows like Langley's are uppermost in people's minds when they think about cameras following police, Monday's ruling stemmed from incidents that were less dramatic and involved more mainstream media.

In one case, a Rockville, Md., couple sued police because they allowed a Washington Post reporter and photographer inside their home when officers came looking for the couple's fugitive son. The other lawsuit was against federal agents who brought along a CNN crew while searching for illegal pesticides linked to the death of eagles.

In both cases, the justices said the inclusion of the news media in a police action on private property violated Fourth Amendment privacy protection.

News organizations and police agencies argued that such media ride-alongs help inform the public and offer a valuable public relations tool. The justices disagreed.

"Surely, the possibility of good public relations for the police is simply not enough, standing alone, to justify the ride-along intrusion into a private home," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote in the 8-1 opinion.

"And even the need for accurate reporting on police issues in general bears no direct relation to the constitutional justification for the police intrusion into a home in order to execute a . . . warrant."

Roots in '86

The ruling comes after more than a decade of growth in "reality" shows based on police ride-alongs, a genre that traces its roots to a 1986 Geraldo Rivera special for CBS called American Vice: The Doping of a Nation.

That live show, in which Rivera donned dark sunglasses and became an undercover agent in a Fort Lauderdale sting, also made then-Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro a pioneer and enthusiastic participant of video-bust shows. Navarro also let crews film Broward deputies for the debut of Cops in 1988 and appeared himself, even at home in his bathrobe.

"I was sick and tired of seeing police officers portrayed in TV shows and movies as Dirty Harry and Miami Vice and just out there killing and maiming and doing extravagant things," Navarro, now head of a detective agency, said Monday.

Not surprised

News executives and media experts were concerned but not surprised by the decision.

Sig Splichal, director of the University of Miami's journalism program and a media law authority, said the decision simply affirmed lower court rulings dating back to 1994. As a result, he said, many agencies adopted more restrictive policies and the legitimate news organizations pulled back.

"I think it's yet another case in the courts that's reflective of a pattern of decisions that limit how we go about our work," said Ramon Escobar, WTVJ-NBC 6's vice president for news.

Alice Jacobs, vice president for news at WSVN-Channel 7, also said the ruling was troubling, but she doesn't expect it to have much immediate impact on her station.

"We haven't done these types of ride-alongs where we accompany the cops onto private property in quite some time," she said. "We'll go with the cops, but we make sure we stay on public property and do our filming from there."

Earl Maucker, editor of the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, said he also has mixed feelings, but thought the impact would be minimal. "I'm very uncomfortable with someone going into somebody's home," he said.

Chilling effect

Mark Seibel, assistant managing editor/metro for The Herald, fears a chilling effect.

"The greatest danger is the possibility that police departments will use this ruling to try to block legitimate news coverage of police operations - whether the media are present by police invitation or not," Seibel said.

South Florida law enforcement agencies don't share that worry.

"Ride-alongs and allowing someone into a home are two different issues," said Cheryl Stopnick, director of media relations for the Broward Sheriff's Office. Stopnick and Cmdr. Linda O'Brien, chief of the Miami-Dade Police media relations unit, both said they didn't anticipate the ruling will force changes.

"If the media is there, they have a right to be in public access areas," O'Brien said. "We don't take the media into people's homes."


New member

I hope Diane is on Mikes surveillance camera, inside the NL raid. Whisper do you know something? :cryptic :laugh