First Amendment Audits and How to Respond

Recently there have been instances popping up all over social media regarding “First Amendment Audits” of law enforcement and government buildings and practices.  The entire focus of these audits is to judge the proper (or often improper) response of law enforcement to the presence of a cameraman.  The hopes of the auditors are to have a poor contact with law enforcement, resulting in a violation of their 4th Amendment rights and or a bad arrest.  This obviously places the officer and agency in line for civil damages and embarrassing online videos.

The question is, when and how should we act?

A review of many of the posted audit videos shows us, extremely well trained and professional law enforcement officers acting what I can only describe as “childish” when confronted with an audit and a camera.  From us blocking their view, following them, challenging them for ID, or even worse, pulling out our own cell phone and taking pictures and video of them.  What is the point?  The videos are never taken well by the public audience, and the comments; I won’t even mention them.

I know, some of you may be saying “But terrorists, they scout locations and police stations are a target.”  I agree.  They certainly do.  When was the last time you found a terrorist standing in wide open view, in public, blatantly videotaping a public building with obvious disregard for the police driving around?  Probably never.  If they were going to scout a location, they would do it and you likely would never know.

Honestly, as a law enforcement professional for the past twenty years, I have seen my share of video cameras, and baiting of law enforcement.  At no time have I felt a threat when someone with a camera was filming me, my police station, or anything to do with us as law enforcement.  Remember, the audits are carefully planned to remain in a place that they can legally be, and there is no law about recording activity or buildings from a public place.  They are well within their rights to do so, and from my experience, the best response to an audit roaming around your police station public areas is to ignore them.  They eventually lose interest and move on to somewhere they can make headlines.

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Sergeant Ryan Brett

Sergeant Ryan Brett is the President of CALRO and works for the Corona Police Department in Riverside County.

112 Comments

  1. Lance on November 7, 2018 at 7:08 am

    I have watched well over 750 1st Amendment audits, In order of race and gender of police, fbi agents, etc, here is what I have tallied. This is in proportion to the number of black and white cops in the videos. The 1st to violate auditors rights are black males, then white and black women, then white men & women with a stripe or 2, then older white men. AND nearly all the time, younger cops stand by and can do nothing as they don’t have the rank. When an auditor asks why he’s not intervening, their answer is always “its not my stop.”

    I would say 1 out of 20 audits is a good encounter. That could be because some good ones don’t make the post.

    Over the last year, police are becoming better, but I still see sergeants, lieutenants and captions making themselves look really stupid while their ‘backups’ are watching. Great training for the officers. They are getting in the auditor’s personal space, asking stupid questions repeatedly and filming them back. AND the best one is to try and follow us back to our vehicle. We are well aware why, and quite frankly, I enjoy the cat and mouse game.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on November 7, 2018 at 7:22 am

      Very cool and insightful breakdown. I’ve never looked at it that way but you’re right. It’s a cat and mouse game that we as law enforcement have to be better at knowing the rules. I appreciate the post!

      Ryan

      • SC NEWS UPSTATE on November 13, 2018 at 2:53 am

        SGT. This article is bogus. I am an activist and supporter. The way we are treated by law enforcement is despicable. This is not a cat and mouse game. This is a serious activity that we all pursue and cherish. We are charged with bogus crimes, cuffed, tazed and slammed to the ground for exercising our 1st Amendment RIGHT. For example, Leon Valley and Chicago Police Dept. are one of the worst areas. If you think that shinning a spot light in the face of someone is being a good police officer then you need to be stripped of your badge and terminated. You are not trained in the 1st amendment and use your personal feelings to make arrests that are clearly unlawful. If you want to be better than learn how to deal with public photography. Also in one instance an activist was detained on suspicion of espionage, while on public property video recording a bldg. Another is, a question was asked to an officer, and his response was suspicion is a misdemeanor. in general, law enforcement needs to wake up and enforce THE LAW, and not your own personal views. We do not bait, but simply show how we are treated by police and government employees.



      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on November 13, 2018 at 4:09 am

        I don’t know if you are saying that my discussion is bogus, but I completely agree with what you said in your article. Some of the discussion in this thread is all over the place however with law-enforcement must get better at dealing with First Amendment audit. That’s the point of our organization is to provide the training and understanding for better relations with everybody. I hope you didn’t take any of that out of context.



  2. Paul H on October 31, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I love your response to this, it is as it should be. I went and watched your video interaction with Philip, and he seemed moved by it. If all of you responded the same way, there would be none of these videos or need for them.
    One that I’m curious if you have seen, though, is the one he did at the San Bernardino probation offices. It got super ugly and there’s an ongoing lawsuit after the fact in which he’s seeking over a million dollars. I’ve been following the weekly court notes to the case (whatever you’d call them, I’m not an attorney) as it progresses towards jury trial, and it looks like it’ll finally be getting underway in November. The probation officer that detained and injured him is actually counter suing him, which is very sad as this officer was completely out of line and brought this all on himself, and is embarrassing himself further by doing so. I find it odd that there haven’t been any mass audits posted there after the fact, though. I wonder why that is. I’m curious if the response would be very different this time. I think it probably would, as this one went pretty bad with a lot of views, and they are looking at a substantial payout over it.
    Anyway, kudos to you for approaching this the right way, the professional way, and not letting a few of these negative naysayers change your methods.
    Here’s a link to the one I’m talking about: https://youtu.be/Rwyrjfu4ZDQ

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on October 31, 2018 at 8:56 am

      Well thank you Paul. I treated Phillip the way I treat everyone I meet in the field. Especially when there is no crime and nothing suspicious going on. I will have to watch the probation video. I haven’t seen it yet but if there were injuries at all it’s a shame. None of the contacts with any auditor or group should ever end up like that. Hopefully we can continue to train and prepare local law enforcement to handle these situations.

      Take care!
      Ryan.

  3. Jeffrey Campbell on October 29, 2018 at 5:30 am

    Journalism has been around since the publishing of the first newspaper, in Rome, around 59 BC. That was nearly 2100 years ago. And the general public has been taking photographs ever since Kodak made the first consumer camera available in 1888. So, it’s safe to say, that photographs and journalism have been anchored together for 128 years. Let’s think about that for a moment. Our society has not had a problem with photojournalism for well over 100 years, but all of a sudden – out of the blue – photographers (like it or not they are photojournalists) exercising their First Amendment rights in public, figuratively speaking, are now deemed “Code Red” alerts.

    – “What are you doing? You can’t take pictures of that post office!”
    – “I don’t consent to you taking my picture in public!”
    – “You need permission to photograph my license plate!!”
    … and my personal favorite:
    – “Well, in this day and age, with everything going on in the world, we don’t allow photos to be taken in our public-accessed facility.”

    Let’s look at that last statement more thoroughly. What was it like before “…this day and age?”

    Since the invention of the camera in 1888, the following events were all covered by journalists – yes, you guessed it – with cameras!

    1890: Wounded Knee Massacre, South Dakota – 178 fatalities.
    1906: San Francisco earthquake – 3000 fatalities.
    1919: Florida Keys earthquake – 745 fatalities.
    1941: Attack on Pearl Harbor – 2467 fatalities.
    1978: Jonestown mass murder/suicide – 909 fatalities.
    1988: Lockerbie, Scotland, Pan-Am Flight 103 – 270 fatalities

    Facts do not care about your feelings, folks. And your paranoia does not trump constitutionally-protected rights to take pictures in public. If you really feel the Supreme Court would rule in favor of protecting our First Amendment, as opposed to abolishing it, as a means of eating away at your civil liberties, then perhaps you might consider choosing another of the 194 countries in the world to reside. Oh, wait, — freedom of expression laws in Canada are not absolute. What would our world be like without pictures, anyways?

    It’s just a camera.

  4. Dick Deming on October 24, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Most officers definitely need more training to deal with these first amendment auditors. Having said that, I also feel that the auditors who go out of their way to be confrontational and rude are diminishing the effect they could have. Why has no addressed the amount of money earned by these auditors? They aren’t flying around the country on their own dime. Let’s hear a discussion on the true motivation.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on October 24, 2018 at 8:36 pm

      Good insight! Any auditors or independents have any comments on the last?

  5. David on October 16, 2018 at 7:48 am

    I love the Audits and definitely think extensive training is needed. I have noticed in the Audits all the stupid officers never invoke Terry v Ohio. Supreme Court gives officers the right to do a safety search. This can help deesculte if conducted properly. I guess if you don’t know the basic laws of the land……

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on October 16, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Thanks for the feedback! I am not sure that the officers who fail to quote the Terry decision are “stupid” but possibly more forgetful. It is quite easy to become overwhelmed when confronted with case laws and other angles that auditors bring. These officers need refresher training and a little confidence to make a detention when warranted. Thanks again!
      Brett

  6. Frank F. on October 12, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    Like it or not it certainly has increased awareness of rights that the citizen has. Both the public and Government officials. Yes, there are many cops that know full well but choose to intimidate and bully citizens into not standing up for their rights. However, I do believe there are many officers who truly believed they were in the right and were completely unaware that just because something came out of their mouth it wasn’t automatically a lawful order.
    The national security issue brought up I always thought was such a joke. There is nothing I can film from a sidewalk that can’t be viewed from a foreign country via a laptop and Google Maps.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on October 16, 2018 at 8:31 am

      You are totally correct! I argue that if a police agency or federal building has such sensitive areas then they need to protect them with security screening or other means. I would love to see police agencies drop the veil of secrecy and separation which we currently carry, often times out of past practice but not need. I know my current agency is trying to be more transparent in our workings. This fosters a sense of trust within the community as we aren’t as secretive and intimidating. I know these opinions aren’t shared with all police, and are only mine and my agencies. As I preach, we need to bring some change to our profession and work with the community, not against.

  7. nettie marie ferreyra on October 6, 2018 at 3:08 am

    Sergeant Ryan, you said the goal is to “have poor contact with the police”. You are wrong! Their goal is to expose the truth of power abuse from law enforcement by threat of violence and arrest. For exercising ones rights? From what I see, if a person flexes their rights, the officer will be motivate them, and only then, to try to find a way to strip that person of their rights. If people give up their rights the officers will get used to that, which they already are in my opinion, and that is exactly why in every single video, the issue becomes an officer’s hurt ego, not a crime! One bad apple is not correct. Why is there so many videos then?

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on October 6, 2018 at 4:38 am

      Maybe I miss spoke. Some of the auditors seek poor contact and yes, it’s easy to come across. I have seen very professional auditors and very poor ones who bring a bad light to the practice. Just as good officers handle audits that never make YouTube, there are many that fail and become overnight stars.
      My purpose and the purpose of CALRO is to provide training encouraging the focus on individual rights and cooperative work with the community. This in opposition to the us versus them mentality.
      Thanks for the insight!
      Brett

    • Trey Evitt on October 12, 2018 at 12:33 am

      No. It’s attention-seeking behavior thinly veiled by a false pretext of “holding public officials accountable”. You DO want negative contact. You want to bait them into violating the law and you do it by being great big disruptive pains in the ass.

      • Lee F on October 17, 2018 at 5:56 pm

        Trey Evitt, If officers have been properly trained, they will not “take the bait”. If auditors are breaking the law, arrest them.
        But first, know why you are arresting them; know the law that you believe they have broken and know why it is a requirement that they be arrested.

        In the same circumstances, would you arrest your mother, sister, brother?

        Your cousin moved to another state. When you were young you treated each other like brothers instead of cousins.
        Would you arrest him for the same “free speech”?



    • Morgan on October 22, 2018 at 12:59 am

      You do know harassment is against the law? Doxing other citizens even in public place like a Police Station, Court House, VA etc, and inside Federal Buildings or attempting to identify Officers from their private vehicles is also a crime, the solution is simple just set up stickers with no cameras allowed beyond security checkpoints or any lobby or reception area where the public conducts business a No cameras on the reception or clerks windows as well offers employees a degree of public safety to which they have a right too under work health and safety. . . From what I’ve seen and read of the DHS “Memo” that option is totally within your scope and jurisdiction of doing so. Let them wander around the outside of the building if they step beyond the boundaries of NO CAMERAS ALLOWED then arrest them. Most buildings have No smoking and No Firearms . This is just another form of anti-government domestic terrorism, most of these guys claim sovereign citizenship and as they have no actual business with agency involved they are therefore also trespassing.

      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on October 22, 2018 at 1:31 am

        Thank you for the post Morgan. Just curious, what law is it to film public or police in their private vehicles? We don’t have any such laws in California. You can film anyone anhywhere you can legally be. I like to try and focus on the reality of “who cares” if they film you. If they want my license plate, I’ll take it off and give it to them.

        California however has banned plastic straws. There’s food for thought.

        Thanks!

        Brett



  8. victor solano on September 15, 2018 at 5:17 am

    You really are one of the few good cops, while i understand the frustration auditors represent they are necessary checks and balances to see who really hold our most cherished freedoms aren’t being violated, i feel any person would be scared if there were no check on those we give power too, like the old saying goes WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?

  9. Joe on September 11, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    You are absolutely wrong. We live in post 9/11 and video tapping government facility such police stations, prison, military installation is prohibited without prior authorization. Police should arrest them and not follow your advice and just ignore them. Yes terrorist could be doing surveillance on this building in the open by trying to blend in to our society. Police should not be ignorant of that and they should arrest this people, confiscate their equipment and delete any video and/or photos that been taken by this individuals.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on September 11, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      I see your point but the reality is that police cannot arrest for a non criminal issue. Video and photo taking won’t lead to terror. They can use Google maps to see street views of everything anyway. I don’t know of any time a terrorist blatantly took pictures and video of a potential target and then welcomed police contact. They prefer to use live scouts and likely have women and kids walk into police stations and document security and other information.
      My auditors reading this are certainly salivating. We are trying to get away from this post modern era way of hyper vigilance and authoritarian thinking.

      Thanks for the comment though!

      • victor solano on September 15, 2018 at 5:17 am

        You really are one of the few good cops, while i understand the frustration auditors represent they are necessary checks and balances to see who really hold our most cherished freedoms aren’t being violated, i feel any person would be scared if there were no check on those we give power too, like the old saying goes WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?



      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on September 23, 2018 at 4:28 pm

        Valid point. Who watches the watchmen? I think the public are a good measure of monitoring their police. Although we aren’t a true customer service system (who is really pleased to get arrested or cited?) we are liable to serve and be judged on that service. As a good supervisor, I am also accountable to monitor the actions of my guys and gals on the street. I hold them accountable and expect them to provide the service they themselves would like to get.
        Thanks for the post!
        Ryan.



      • Sean M Martin on September 20, 2018 at 11:10 pm

        Hey Sergeant, I have been critical of you in a few posts and I apologize for being overly harsh. You are engaging with the public in a very professional and constructive manner while providing a platform for all citizens to voice their views. If you ever find yourself in the Sacramento area, look me up, I would like to buy you lunch. God Bless you Brett. WWG1WGA!



      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on September 20, 2018 at 11:26 pm

        No worries at all. I appreciate any and all comments, even and especially negative because they point out things I or we (law enforcement) can improve on. We certainly don’t do everything perfect. I’m hoping to bring some humanistic approaches to police work. Thanks again!
        Brett



    • John Q on September 12, 2018 at 5:05 am

      The law is the law! Vote different politicians or complain to your congress representative about it. It was under the Obama administration that this law was passed!!!!

      • Bob on September 13, 2018 at 12:31 am

        Which law is that? State or Federal or Municipal?



    • Jackie Baron on September 20, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      Joe, I can state emphatically that YOU are wrong. It is NOT a criminal offence to record anything from a public space. The Department of Hoemland Security even declassified a 2010 memo and sent it to law enforcement agencies NATIONWIDE stating that recording of ANY government building from a public space was perfectly legal. So you cannot arrest someone doing something lawful. Your own imagination and paranoia doesn’t override someone’s Constitutional Rights. And as for all this 9/11 nonsense…..when are you going to get a grip and stop seeing terrorists and bogeymen and enemies lurking at every turn? There is NOTHING to fear so stop letting your wild imagination fabricate absurd situations for you. What if a woman parked her butt on a stool in south Manhattan and put up an easel and canvas and started painting the Statue of Liberty. Would you in your infinitely childish paranoia go over and start hassling her and interrogating her because your mind has lost it’s grip on reality and has entered into some terror filled cloud-cuckoo land? She is after all making a picture of a public landmark.

      • tom on October 8, 2018 at 10:22 pm

        The dhs memo is for fps officers only. NOT regular law enforcement.People make this mistake often.



      • Morgan on October 22, 2018 at 1:29 am

        It’s not a constitutional right at all, the constitution does not uphold or allows you any right to harass, intimidate or interfere with public servants in the course of the duties. Public servants are also citizens and are entitled with to same protection under the law. BTW they also pay taxes so in effect they are paying their own wages and the upkeep of the buildings they work from, if you wish to pull that old chestnut out of the fire as well. 1a only means you can’t be arrested for the photography You CAN BE arrested for the INTENT BEHIND the photography which is attempted and/or , intentional harassment, intimidation or interference, illegally attempting to identify private citizens without their consent, (doxing), that includes photography of Officers and staff and vehicles. None of these idiots are actual NEWS services so they have no right to actually be inside the building according to the DHS memo. A go-pro, Iphone and a YouTube channel does make you media or news. You can however photograph the OUTSIDE of the building, and that’s all you are entitled to do as a civilian.



    • Sean Martin on September 20, 2018 at 10:55 pm

      Joe, your way of thinking puts another win in the terrorists score card; do some research and tell me how many terrorists were seen taking photos outside of their targets before hitting it…I found ZERO. One of our founding father said something like this, “if you trade your liberty for security you disserve neither,” how true that is. Stand up for you rights or loose them, God Bless you Joe. Where We Go 1 We Go All!

      Sean

      • tom on October 9, 2018 at 9:45 pm

        Terrorists don’t need to go into the public to gather information. All they have to do is watch these so called audit videos. You people do all the work for them.



      • Morgan on October 22, 2018 at 1:47 am

        Then you didn’t do your homework very well, 1st World Trade Centre Bombing , Oklahoma City, most terrorists do a reconnaissance which includes taking pictures. Think of it this way, all those guys who are doing this so called audits are actually doing the real terrorists jobs for them by putting the interior of the buildings, who is in them where they are situated within the building etc etc out htere.
        This is America as if there isn’t enough wackos out there without aiding and abetting more.
        I suggest you spend more time learning facts and actually reading , than dealing in conspiracy theories and Q misinformation campaigns.



    • Tim Trahan on September 21, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      No, Joe. You are absolutely wrong. 9/11 did not cause The Constitution to be cast away. You can check out Google Maps and find the exact same thing these people are photographing.

  10. D. Myers on September 9, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    Police cannot police themselves. Audits will lead to citizen oversight bodies. Check and balance.

    Next problem to confront/audit is our court system. Just as police have gone unchecked so has the entire system of justice.
    Cameras and access to footage of one’s own trial should be a right. As the cop-watchers finish their duties they must move their focus on the courts.
    Bad judges, bad prosecutors, virtually absent public defenders are next.
    If you watched police audit videos and it shocked you, just wait until you see the mess in our courts.
    The majority of courtroom cases are open to the public. You cannot trespass what my eyes have seen. Cameras in all courtrooms and access to the footage (as already provided for by law) is our right as well.
    In Texas, a 30 minute trial transcript will run you $2000. You are not allowed a copy of the video whatsoever. You are absolutely not allowed any type of recording in court under any circumstances. You will be charged with contempt and jailed if caught. Why?
    Do our judges have something to hide?

    The videos taken by these brave courtroom auditors are beginning to raise in number.
    Judges are fairing almost worse than the police.
    Unchecked power must be put in check. Period.

    Mmmmmkay?

  11. Zed on September 7, 2018 at 5:12 am

    “The hopes of the auditors are to have a poor contact with law enforcement, resulting in a violation of their 4th Amendment rights and or a bad arrest.”

    I think that is part of the problem. What you are doing is establishing an “us” vs. “them” mentality, using inflammatory generalizations. For instance, it is not “the hopes of auditors” to have a confrontation with police. It is the hope of “good” auditors to have NO confrontations with police, thus demonstrating that authorities support and protect constitutional rights–not violate them. Think one second about the apposite.

    Furthermore, there should never be any confrontation with authorities when a constitutional right is being exercised. What the auditors hope to do is make public a very real precedence and willingness by law enforcement to infringe upon and take away constitutional rights, and as they have shown, there are far too many of those examples. The precedence to violate constitutional rights by authorities is an extremely serious threat to the freedoms of the American Republic because our Republic is founded on those very rights. The Constitution of the United States should NEVER be taken flippantly by civilians nor authorities.

    I would hope law enforcement can get over the “us vs. them” mentality at some point. The American public are not “perps.” They are human beings — just like police officers.

  12. Duane on August 25, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    Just some random comments.
    I have had interactions with police all over the US, primarily in the southeast. These are not on a professional bases, but notification to the various departments that we would be, or potentially setting off alarms,and have generally been with officers onsite.
    The rather appalling thing which over the past 10 years which seems to be becoming more prevalent is the number of officers which are retiring early due to how they perceive the new officers entering law enforcement. Basically as powermad, egotistical people who seek out law enforcement careers as a way to have authority over others.
    While I’m the first to take what they say with a grain (or more) of salt since all us old-timers know everything (including people) was/were better back in the day, the percentage that express this is increasing.
    The various “audit”, traffic stop, amendment videos definitely show a rather appalling number of officers who feel empowered that even on camera are willing to state something along the lines of “I don’t care what the law says I’m a cop and you have to do as I say”. Yes I’m aware that the more sensational videos are posted but the old saying about one bad apple applies to overall perceptions also.
    What doesn’t help is that 5 or 6 or more officers stand by silently and allow it to proceed.
    I lived several years in Germany and the cops there have authority that would make the most power mad sociopath wet his or her pants. When’s the last time you have seen a regular patrol call here in the states with an antitank Rocket in the trunk? Why it doesn’t get out of hand is that they also enforce the law on fellow officers.
    Please note that I’ve generalized and know that I have… Stats apply to populations not individuals.
    In closing, I appreciate what you, and other officers do. The old question of who watches the watchers has an answer, it is the watchers and takes place within the organization. It sounds as if that you are aware of this.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on September 3, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      Wow powerful stuff and thank you for contributing. I have seen this also and it frustrates me when one bad apple is allowed to run among the rest of the officers. We spend way to much time fixing reputations of the amazing police officers of this nation based on the actions of a few. What it appears to be formed in is ignorance. Ignorance of the law and of the rights afforded to us all. We must change with the times and adapt for flexible policing of neighborhoods. This means departments need to educate their officers to interact with, not on, the population. Thanks for the post!
      Sgt. Brett

      • Victor A. on October 19, 2018 at 9:47 am

        Sgt. Brett, Sir if I may make a suggestion in your quest for better PR with the public you serve. It has long bothered me that the term “Enforcement” became attached to “Officer”. It denotes what an officer’s true intent should be which is keeping the peace, not enforcing anything. If anything it just lends more to the us V them image I see you want to break away from, and I applaud you and wish you godspeed to that end. I remember a time when the police were referred to as “Peace Officers” and I for one think in conjunction with this peaceful intent mindset would go a long way in bringing about the change that I see you effecting. With any luck perhaps you will be modeled as a template, and or the barometer set to industry standard I certainly wish for you all the success in your attempt to create something that everyone constituant in the land could come to appreciate.



  13. Michael on August 22, 2018 at 3:53 am

    I would like to thank Sgt. Brett for his positive encounter with auditor Phillip. Your attitude and knowledge of what he does and why he does it speaks volumes about what you do and why you do it. You are an absolutele professional in your field and I would be honored to live in your city and know I was being protected by a man of your stature. I thoroughly commend you and wish there were a hundred officers like you in my city. You bring pride to your field and a refreshing light to an otherwise bleak view in law enforcement professionals.

    I have watched my share of audit videos and plan on performing a few in my area. I hope that my local police will shine bright and I can feel secure in my liberties knowing that men like you dedicate your lives to secure our freedom. Thank you and continue the good fight, Sgt. Brett.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on August 22, 2018 at 4:28 am

      Well thank you very much Michael. I appreciate the compliment and that is how I conduct myself as much as possible when I’m at work. And Mike’s Pearians I have found that have police we can get a lot further with kindness and we can with cruelty. Good luck with your audit at your local police departments. Please comment back and let us know how it goes or perhaps put it up on YouTube. I hope they can act professionally. Take care.

  14. Paul on August 13, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    What is it with all the police desecrating the US flag recently. Paragraph 1 of he US flag code prohibits changing the color of the US flag and displaying it. It is desecration. Only traitors do that with Old Glory.

    I doubt you will post this question

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on August 13, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Doubt all you like. I approve every comment except those who name individuals. I get your point about the flag color changing being a US Code. If you must single out police use of the blue line, that lets consider fire using a red line, US Military using subdued green and black flags, and even breast cancer awareness using pink line or pink and black flags. I don’t see it as disrespect at all but as a unification of American efforts to support issues or situations in our history. We have to be a little more open to things, which is why the First amendment audits are so intriguing. Change minds and you can change a nation.

  15. Scott A. Fitzpatrick on August 13, 2018 at 3:24 am

    I’m of two minds when it comes to these 1st Amendment “audits”. For example, doing this type of thing in front of the main gate of military installation is just antagonistic and is YouTube grandstanding at its worst. As far as civilian law enforcement is concerned, in most instances police officers are doing the best job they can to enforce the law. Some officers are “caught” failing simply because they lack the basic training in what the 1st Amendment describes and how to properly react to these unfortunate confrontations. I’m disgusted by the majority of these so-called “auditors” acting on my behalf as an American citizen, and they’re taking an unfair advantage of our already tense civil discourse. Sadly, I think that this is just the beginning, and the militarization of the police has been an unfortunate outcome of the complete lack of respect being shown by our fellow citizens of the military, police and national symbols ( flag, anthem, etc…)

    • Roger York on September 16, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      Scott, you really think the militarization of the police is a “result” of disrespect? I disagree. I think it’s an encroaching power grab by the goverrnment in which we steadily lose civil rights. The audits are in direct “response” to this encroachment. There are bad auditors but if they are not violating law, leave them alone.

  16. Mike on August 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Many of you ask “What is the purpose of such audits?” Often the purpose is to spark just what’s taking place on this blog – discussion. They are used to educate, inform, and from what I see here, raise public awareness of just how far we’ve strayed from understanding and exercising our Constitutional rights as citizens. You people need to calm down. Just a few short years ago, none of you would have cared at all that someone was taking your picture or taking a video. Three things have happened of the past few decades in this country: 1 – You’ve all become like scared rabbits because those who seek control have programmed you that way. 2: Technology has progressed to the point that now everyone has a video camera. 3: Almost none of you were educated by your school system to understand our rights and responsibilities as United States citizens. These three facts have led to the skittish, scared, and embarrassingly uninformed folks who now fear a lens pointed in their direction. It’s a sad fact that even our law enforcement officers have fallen victim to the video scare, even though they have no problem carrying a video camera themselves and filming anyone and anything they encounter – and you have nothing to say about it. Why, because it’s their right, just as it’s you’re right to film. Remember – when in a public place, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. You are in public. If you want privacy, go somewhere where you can get it. When you’re in public, you have no right to privacy – it’s just that simple. Stop running scared, and be a proud American. Fearful, timid, and ignorant is no way to go through life.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on August 6, 2018 at 8:50 pm

      Great point Mike! That is exactly part of the focus on training that we at CALRO provide. There is really nothing to be afraid of when someone is overtly filming them or a building. The expectation of privacy is so low anymore (especially in public) that I would be surprised if we aren’t always on film somehow. As a sworn police officer and member of “government” I calmly understand that I am filmed during my working hours, and probably (most likely) on my days off. Doesn’t bother me one bit!
      Stay safe!
      Ryan

  17. Randy Chica on July 29, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    What is so frustrating for so many of us is the double standard that exists. Let me explain. All citizens everywhere are supposed to know and follow all of the laws all of the time. That old saying, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” applies to all of American society. Except in ONE PROFESSION: Law Enforcement. The Supreme Court in Heien v. North Carolina decided that the police don’t need to know the laws that they enforce. How absolutely crazy is that? It is like something from the pages of Kafka or 1984. The court’s decision effectively said that “Ignorance of the law is no excuse…Unless you are a cop. Then it is a great excuse!” What we see, over and over again in auditor’s videos is not merely ignorance of the First Amendment…which is bad…but also ignorance of laws having to do with every day policing, like, demanding ID. Texas Penal Code 38.02 is one example. It states that a person only has to give ID if they have been lawfully arrested. Yet, over and over, we see police either lying or not knowing this very basic, very important law. If they are lying…well, that is OK…the court has said they can lie. If they are ignorant of the law…I guess that is OK too. At least according to the supreme court. (No capitalization is intentional.)

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 30, 2018 at 12:21 am

      You bring up some good points and that values system where law enforcement doesn’t need to know all the laws is largely due to poor training and standards. Most police officers encountering photographers and auditors are struggling with the definition of “reasonable suspicion” which is the general standard when we can contact and detain. I appreciate your post!

      Ryan

  18. Michael on July 27, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Is this the only reason an individual would perform an audit?
    “The entire focus of these audits is to judge the proper (or often improper) response of law enforcement to the presence of a cameraman.”
    I’ve seen some of these audit videos recently and it seems like there is no real purpose other than stirring the pot so to speak. I’m not sure if there is an actual legitimate reason to film a federal building or its employees.
    Would anyone actually care how a post office is conducting business, or is this more about exercising rights just to do so?

    • Gee on August 4, 2018 at 10:44 pm

      People think they have entitlements over other people, it makes for a good political narrative, and fear you are losing entitlements you don’t even have drives people to the polls. My dad gets told the USPS is socialism by his fake news, and he is angry about it, thankfully he is too old to misbehave like this.

  19. James Hensley on July 19, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I understand your thoughts on the auditors that look to just antagonize police and record them getting upset. I however, am more of an Accountability Activist. If the officer or public official / servant is polite, I show how professional that person is. Reference my Palm Springs PD Audit. The Sgt was very professional. But if the person is unprofessional or rude because of a camera in public, education and training are much needed. So I’m just filming to ensure people who serve the community are educated and trained up on free press in public, or filming in public for any reason. If not, I educate them. I have been thru 2 Police Academies, so I have the education to share. Plus, I continue to read up on current laws. Badically, if you act professional, you pass. If you act unprofessional, you need redirection. Thank you.

  20. E David worden on July 10, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    I am one of the leading 1st Amendment Auditors in the community. That said,I m saddened by some of what I see going on in audits (primarily out of California bunch) these days. Unfortunately,some auditors thrive off conflict and go out of their way to create it. I don’t video citizens (unless they come up and question me or bother me) as that’s not what I m after. My audits revolve around public officials-who must respect our rights but often don’t. I ve been Arrested (13 times in last two years) for a variety of Contempt of Cop charges-and have had them all dismissed mainly due to my BodyCam footage. These abuses of power are what drive us to these audits. It’s time Police realize the days of them controlling the narrative and doing as they please are gone. Corruption and abuse must be exposed and dealt with. If LE would do it-I d be doing sailing videos.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 11, 2018 at 1:35 am

      Thanks for the input. I appreciate what the auditors are doing for our communities mostly. Yes there are those that purposely antagonize looking for a civil lawsuit. Either way, the audits sharpen our ability to reason and take conflict as law enforcement professionals. Those who fail audits should seek training.

    • Scott M. on July 13, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      David, I am a law enforcement attorney and trainer and have previously posted on this site. I am very familiar with you and your demeanor when conducting audits. I agree that it does stand in stark contrast to the provocative, nasty, rude, and “thrive off conflict” attitude you reference that is unfortunately being displayed by an increasing number of auditors elsewhere. Also it was your post last week that alerted me to the Leon Valley lawsuit being filed. Thank you. I immediately downloaded the federal court Complaint and used it yesterday as a “teachable moment” during a training class.

  21. kris on July 10, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    hi.. two questions: can auditors not be cited for public harassment? and, is there any concern of officers being so educated about auditors that they drop their guard to the extent that a real threat could gain access and info in order to do harm?

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 11, 2018 at 1:39 am

      Yes, auditors can face arrest depending on severity of the harassment and applicable state and local laws. It would take a pretty serious harassment or threats to get arrested during an audit in California. I imagine it’s the same in other states.

      As far as officers dropping their guard I can only assume anything is possible. With proper training and a little bit of self control / humanity, officers should be able to judge an audit from a possible officer safety risk. With that, agencies are responsible for training their officers to know the difference between someone conducting a First Amendment audit or doing a scout for a terror attack. Thanks for tbe questions!

    • Sean Martin on July 12, 2018 at 4:51 am

      Cited for harassment by exercising their rights; that is the sort of logic that fuels these audits. As for your second question refer to my first answer……American citizens are electronically monitored from the second we walk out our front door until we return to the four walls of our homes; we are even surveilled in the privacy of our home to an extent. For some reason when we the people are on the other end of the camera our public servants don’t like it; WHY?

  22. James on July 7, 2018 at 2:59 am

    My question and comment centers around the private citizen doing business when these guys are around. It’s all fine you walk around and film, but I don’t need someone over my shoulder with a camera recording personal information and transactions, so there needs to be some level of respect from these guys to stay out of my personal space and leave me alone to do my private business even with a public official. A lot of these guys claim people are “snitches that need to be educated” all because we alerted an authority of something we thought was suspicious activity. I’ve had one of these guys recording me trying to pay a fee while I was using my debit card and he was trying to film me input my PIN. I told him to please back off so I can make my transaction and he got rude and told me to “f-ck off and I could leave and I can film anything in a public place” right in the middle of my transaction. It got annoying and finally I left.

    My question is, what are my rights to privacy even in a public place in regards to these guys being disrespectful and intrusive to my business?

    I’m all for first amendment rights but at least be respectful towards others and let them do their business transactions in peace.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 7, 2018 at 6:11 am

      Good point of view and good question. This is an area not yet litigated in courts, so it leaves law enforcement without serious teeth in enforcing generally annoying behavior with phones and cameras. I can only assume there will eventually be clarification under existing harassment or eavesdropping laws. Right now it’s not real clear and the auditors (not all of them) are exploiting this weakness in law.

      • Sean Martin on July 12, 2018 at 5:12 am

        SGT Brett, a free people must always hold our public servants accountable and demand transparency from our government; it is our duty. I am surprised that you being a police SGT would even suggest that auditors are filming people putting their ATM codes into machines like the last poster suggested? As for the courts litigating this stuff, take a look at Hale v. Henkel SCOUS 1906. This case has been referenced over 1600 times in federal court and no court has ever attempted to overturn it. We are slowly becoming a free country again so either honor your oath as I have or find another line of work. These auditors are exploiting weaknesses in public servants not in the law. Please re read the oath you took Sergeant Ryan Brett, the people are counting on you to do your job. WWG1WGA. God Bless



      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 12, 2018 at 5:25 am

        I don’t believe I ever said I suspected anyone of intentionally filming anyone using an ATM. That was another’s comment with their experience. I support audits if it wasn’t evident. I have had personal experience with auditors in Southern California and haven’t had any issue since I work transparent. I train my guys to react according to their oath. Basically I have no problem being filmed or with the filming of anything.



  23. Frank on July 2, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    I tried to leave a comment about some of the auditors being anarchists and antifa AND how some of the bad cops do require citizens watching them but I was labeled as spam Thanks for not allowing honest debate

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 2, 2018 at 9:52 pm

      Not sure how anything was marked as spam. I approved all comments. I welcome debate! I only disallow people when the mention specific names or the post has no value. You’re welcome to mention anything you’ve experienced.

  24. Michael C, Wa State. on June 30, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Sergeant Ryan,

    Are you aware of the current events in Leon Valley where the police have launched a retaliation campaign against a large number of self described auditors? Can you offer any thoughts on why the police there seem to be unable to see the big picture? There is no victory for the Leon Valley PD, no matter how many arrests and convictions they make against auditors the Leon Valley PD will always look like the bad guy. The only way for Leon Valley PD to come out ahead on this is to educate their officers, understand how to approach these auditors and let the auditors win.

    Too often the officers involved in these audits are immediately authoritarian and hostile, the auditors are almost always calculated and wait for the officer to escalate the situation before the auditor escalates. If these officers were better trained they would be able to recognize the situation for what it is within 60 seconds, thank the auditor for caring and then go about some other police business. The police look good AND the auditor doesn’t have a video, gets bored and leaves. Why can these police not “kill them with Kindness” so to speak?

    Respectfully,

    Michael C.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on June 30, 2018 at 6:32 pm

      Great point Michael and one which I cannot understand. This is why I am passionate about our profession not “bowing” down to auditors as some may see but working with them to ensure the Constitution is upheld as we have sworn to do. Does anyone filming a lobby or gates or plates really REALLY constitute a safety issue? Ah no. We are stuck in a post terror driven state where everything is suspicious, even when proven not to be suspicious or illegal.

      As police professionals, we have to change from within and I propose that we use the audits as a springboard to learning to effectively communicate with the community, even if we have our suspicions on intent.

      Thanks for the post!

      Brett

      • Sean Martin on July 12, 2018 at 5:32 am

        SGT. The post 9/11 state is a state of mind only. If peoples rights and liberties are diminished because of an act of terror then guess what, 12 radicals crippled the greatest country on earth. The TSA, the Patriot ACT, Police surveillance, and so on have done nothing but fuel terrorists ideologies and divide our country. I think it was Benjamin Franklin that said; if you trade you liberties for security you deserve neither. I agree with that statement; a united free people are unstoppable. SGT. the next time you see an auditor go shake his hand and tell that you are proud to defend his God given rights. If you do this I guarantee you two things: 1. The auditor will post a great (positive) video about you and your department and 2. That auditor will thank you and walk away never to be seen again. WWG1WGA. God Bless.



    • Scott M. on June 30, 2018 at 11:17 pm

      Michael C, great observations. I am an attorney and law enforcement instructor who teaches a class for officers on the interplay between 4th Amendment (search and seizure) and 1st Amendment (free speech/freedom to film the police) interests. I see you’re from Washington State. In 2017 I was the featured speaker at WASPC’s (Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs) conference to teach this very class. I promise you, most police chiefs and sheriffs want their personnel to respect these auditors’ rights while at the same time protecting the public from criminal activity. Sometimes the behavior of individual auditors make that very difficult. But I agree with you that “kill them with kindness” is not a bad idea. In fact, I have taught that principle for the past two years–I actually use those exact words–and have heard class attendees share stories of where they adopted that approach and diffused an auditor’s attempted provocation.

      • Cindy Briggs on July 6, 2018 at 2:23 am

        Hi,
        I today, I was in the office, of the city of Exeter,(Tulare County) California.
        I was attempting to conduct PRIVATE business, buying Dial A Ride bus passes.
        When the guy entered, with a video camera and was video taping, I KNEW IMMEDIATELY IT WAS AN “AUDIT”!
        I told him, repeatedly, I did NOT want to be video taped.
        I asked him if he knew what what the SECOND AMENDMENT was. No, the moron didn’t. I told him, “THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS”. I thought everyone should exercise that right to shoot people like him! I told him to get a job!
        I HAD TO GIVE MY NAME, WHILE CONDUCTING MY BUSINESS.
        Now, he has that on video…
        Where he REALLY MESSED UP…
        He followed me outside, I told him to back off, he was invading my personal space. He KEPT FOLLOWING ME, SAYING I WAS GOING TO BE ON YOU TUBE.
        I kept moving down the block,waiting for Dial A Ride. He was STILL in pursuit of me!
        BIG MISTAKE! I am a 66 year old, single female. He has my name, and can find my name, with address, in county records! Who knows what might happen with these “crack pots”?
        CAN YOU SAY, “STALKING”?
        I called P.D., we will see where this goes…
        California penal code,(section 646.9, willful stalking and harassment), does not allow First Amendment Rights, to allow “STALKING”.
        I accomplished two things.
        I effectively got him OUT of the City offices, so they didn’t have to deal with him.
        Then, by following me, a stalking/harassment charge. The moron “knew his rights”, but didn’t know mine!
        I am a former Peace Officer. Stupid little boy, picked the wrong “old lady” to mess with!
        I am sorry my shirt was covering my belt buckle. It says, “NOBODY EVER RAPED A .38”
        I am not a city employee, so I can bring charges and I did.
        It is called Activism.
        I hope you all get a laugh! I did what as Government employees, you can’t do.
        But I helped even the score just a little.



      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 6, 2018 at 6:17 am

        Wow great story! I mentioned this awhile ago, about the auditors beginning to harass non law enforcement people. Any regular citizen doesn’t have to give a name or badge number and it can quickly escalate into a situation ending in arrest for a violation of one or many statutes. Way to know your rights also. Did you get the name of the auditor? I’d like to see the video. Stay safe and keep us informed on your incident.
        Ryan



      • Cindy Briggs on July 6, 2018 at 2:45 am

        PS. Watch for my close up, coming soon, on YouTube!
        Never trust a Sneaky Blonde!
        (Or now, a sneaky gray haired, old lady)
        Lots of kicks and giggles and H&D left, even terminally Ill.



  25. matt on June 13, 2018 at 4:34 am

    lol thats not what an audit is, even california police don’t even know what an audit is. LOL

  26. Craig BJJ on June 12, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    I watched 1 audit and became addicted to seeing the truth of how the vast majority of these audits go. The reason I will watch and am considering doing my own audits – because I know the local PD in my area (business owner, corporate job as well, white, tall, good looking so its not about anything other than the Police have always viewed themselves our “betters”) will react RIDICULOUSLY in the face of a camera. And imagine how they act when they don’t think/aren’t being recorded. Where there is smoke there is fire.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on June 12, 2018 at 11:13 pm

      Good point. I have seen that as well and being a police sergeant I find it a little alarming that we can’t tone down the contact when we realize there isn’t really anything criminal going on. We’re getting better though. Soon the audits will find new life in public contacts and then there will be some serious conflict.

  27. Luna on June 9, 2018 at 2:06 am

    Unfortunately they are now moving to military bases and posting the comings and goings of military and government personnel as well as dependents. They may not be dangerous, but they are putting these video on YouTube where people who might mean harm can see them.

    • Louis G Hallacy on July 3, 2018 at 6:22 pm

      The eyes can’t trespass. If there are things that should not be seen then it is the responsibility of the Owner or Government to ensure security. Not the auditor. Americans citizens, government workers (i.e. Police, Post Office, etc.) and our infrastructure should not be afraid of cameras.

      we live in the 21st Century cameras will continue to get smaller. Get used to it.

      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 3, 2018 at 7:19 pm

        Very well put! I agree totally. I have seen enough police officers and supervisors flip out over the auditors taking pictures of licenses plates. Seriously? Who cares. Unless the person accessing the information has a DMV terminal or a friendly working on the inside, then it is no big deal. We need to advance and get over it. Every single thing we do and say is presumably video taped anyway. This applies to everyone in society so we better get comfortable appearing on YouTube.



  28. MyNameWhy AmIBeingDetained on June 2, 2018 at 3:00 am

    I first ran across first amendment audits on YouTube yesterday. I went on a binge and I have to say, if their intention was to make me lose faith in law enforcement, it worked. At first I just thought they were annoying jerks out to make a buck on YouTube, but then I saw guns drawn, people handcuffed, threatened, manhandled, arrested…all in the most tenuous (or sometimes outright nonsensical) of justifications. I realize they are looking for those responses, but they should not be finding them so readily.

    This article helped allay my concerns a good bit, though I must confess, not entirely. I personally know a lot of law enforcement officers, ubiquitously good people but many with a bit of a penchant for bravado. I can totally see them getting in trouble for something like this. I how that they see something like this article before they run across one of these guys.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on June 8, 2018 at 1:10 am

      Very good points! I also was a bit concerned at how my fellow officers responded to these audits, even being that many of the auditors are non-confrontational and just standing around. We have to use a little more judgement on our “reasonable suspicion” and the auditors are actually providing free training for us. I appreciate them for that and all the citizens for their honest expectations of their police. Thank you for the comment!
      Brett

  29. Mark Abner on May 25, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    If the auditors put their self in a position to be questioned (which they are by design of the audit) then why do they get so defensive when they are actually questioned? I am sure if any “auditors” saw a person standing on the sidewalk in front of their home video taping their every move the auditor would approach them and ask what they are doing there and who the are,where do they live then next they would call the police to complain they are being stalked. If the police ask for your I.D. whats the big deal? Being friendly and forth coming will go along way. Total lack of respect for authority and a sense of entitlement is the problem with these auditors. Auditors should go about their day, be a productive citizen and leave the police to do their job.

    • Kyle on May 30, 2018 at 12:56 am

      When will people stop unfairly comparing apples to oranges? I’m neither an auditor (though I may at some point begin) nor an officer, but I see comments like this all the time. The auditors go where the officers or govt employees. work So why do you think someone should go to their homes? Why not their place of work? Or is it you assume most of these auditors have no job? That’s the problem with this world. Everyone goes around making assumptions.
      These auditors are not out there because it’s such great fun! I’m sure many of them who’ve experienced being thrown to the ground, cuffed and stuffed would love to explain how fun those encounters are! All for recording in public.
      The risks they take are for the benefit of all of society. They are trying to root out the bad apples found on many departments. That serves two purposes I can think of. 1) The bad officers on departments put the good officers in danger. If the public has a better perception of the officers they encounter they are less likely to be a problem or danger. The sooner these bad actors are found and dealt with the safer everyone’s lives will be. 2) It educates everyone! The officers learn to respect the public’s rights… and the people learn how to use those rights.
      This isn’t just about the 1st amendment. nooooo sir. They call it that because that’s where it starts. But the minute an officer ask for a person’s identification he’s attempting to violate a person’s 4th amendment right to privacy. Since we don’t live in Nazi Germany, the only time we have to produce papers (ID) is when? when there’s reasonable, articulable suspicion that a crime has been will be, or is being committed. The officer must be able to state such when asked. It has already been ruled in our supreme courts that photography is not a crime, nor is it supposed to be suspicious. If an officer decides to be influenced by the propaganda machine the trouble begins. We live in a time where everyone is being programed… If you see something say something. I’m already long winded, so I won’t go further into that thought.
      At that point the contact is no longer consensual and when the encounter becomes detention the person has the 5th amendment to safeguard his person.
      Maybe you don’t understand these times, and I believe you might need to wake up to the fact that is. More often than not an encounter with the police can and will escalate to the point they get their paws into your wallet.
      The big deal about giving your ID… In this day in age, when a cop generates a report with your info, you got no idea which database(s) it winds up in. Unfortunately when a person demands a public servant respect his rights, often that report will end up in a “fusion center’s” database, and next thing you know DHS has put your name on some watch list or restricted travel.
      I totally agree that one should be friendly and respectful with EVERYONE we encounter. I agree officer’s have a very difficult job. But I believe they do very little to improve that statistic. Training is key, and there’s a problem. Those in charge are more focused/interested on/in how much revenue they can generate off our backs. Many officers are poorly trained. They don’t know the laws, but they sure know the companies policies. Bet on that.
      To all the officers who may read this…. THANK YOU for your service, and PLEASE understand the time has come to stop being quiet while the bad apples ruin your profession. You are endangering yourselves and fellow officers, AND the people you are supposed to serve and protect. I don’t care how far up the chain this plague goes in your department, the people you serve will stick behind an honest professional officer when they see his fight is just.
      Mark, I’m a man, just like you. Remember respect is earned not given. It’s too bad many officers have forgotten that. It ain’t just them though, it runs among all human population. I don’t care who you are or what piece of tin you pin on your breast if you try to usurp my rights, you’ll know about it in no uncertain terms. And at that point, I may not be so respectful. Remember, our forefathers FOUGHT and many gave their lives. They were THAT important to them. The only one I answer to is God. As long as I’m not violating his laws, no one need question me. Same goes for the auditors. they are not violating any law they should be as Set Brett advised; left alone. When you leave them alone, their target gets a pass, and that is their goal. When government employees will respect everyone’s rights they won’t need to do these audits.

      • PoppaDeuce on May 31, 2018 at 6:56 am

        I dont really have that much of a problem with 1st amendment audits, i do however have a massive problem with 2nd amendment audits. If you and a group of friends are going to get together in fatigues and open carry ‘military style’ weapons down a suburban street or busy retail park, this is clearly very provocative and fear imposing behaviour. There is no circumstance in my mind, where you would need to do such a thing in your normal daily activities. In these cases, the gun carriers in my opinion, deserve to get the heavy handed treatment. They impose distress on citizens that can be quite disturbing and traumatic. Not only that but they are knowingly wasting police time. And for the record, i’m PRO GUN!



  30. Deepak Kamat on May 19, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    There is this tome in this article that makes me think you see First Amendment Audits as a fun-activity by these auditors, while I do not disagree that many of the auditors just do it for fun and the thrill, yet, many, majority of them do it to educate people, to help citizen understand and excercise their rights, to answer back to a law enforcement officer when they are asking them to do something that they aren’t required to, first amendment audits are not done for making headlines but mostly to educate people, to make them act less superior where there is no need of showing their jurisdiction,

    They make headlines because of people who act like they shouldn’t. And that’s for good, so they can respect people’s right later.

    While your article serves a good purpose for the workers who has to encounter these auditors it also has a tone that is trying to show these auditors as people whose work has no meaning for the public interest.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on May 22, 2018 at 10:24 pm

      I am sorry you misunderstood my purpose in my writing. I speak from the angle of a police supervisor, advising the officers who work for me (and police agencies). We can get caught in the mettle and argument about the purpose of the audits. I totally appreciate the auditors and what they do, and have spoken to them in positive light. I clearly see what and how their work adds to public interest, I just didn’t want to get into a lengthy conversation on that topic.
      To expose this, you can see now how many of the auditors have moved on from police agencies to all federal agencies, large business, and even some private industry. Everyone is affected.

      • Sean Martin on July 12, 2018 at 5:46 am

        SGT. When a public servant, police, or security observes an auditor they have three options, 1. ignore the auditors all together (they will quickly move on), 2. they can politely make contact and even bring them a bottle of water, then go back to work (again the auditor will move on in a hurry), or 3. they can get into a pissing contest with them and become a YouTube star. (more auditors will soon visit the location Guaranteed). WWG1WGA. God Bless



      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on July 12, 2018 at 6:53 am

        I will! In fact, I have. Look up Corona Police First Amendment audit by High Desert Community Warch. The title is “Proof that Accountability helps”. My interaction wouldn’t change for any auditor. Have at it boys and girls!



    • Rick on May 29, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      The purpose of these self proclaimed auditors is for social media recognition and revenues and nothing more. If they had any intelligence, they would see that they are bastardizing the law. They have no reason to be there other than because they can and in hopes of getting a bad actor on video. That doesn’t bother me personally but what does bother me is them shooting video inside of public places, such as the post office, where every day citizens have to go to do business. At some point, these punks with cameras are going to cause some elderly person to have a stroke or heart attack because they don’t want to be photographed and then they will hopefully be charged with endangerment or worse.

      I’ve been a professional photographer for over 30 years and never felt a need to photograph people in public without their consent because I could. This is wrong and I hope it’s addressed soon. I shot real estate back in the early 2000’s in Miami Beach, Florida. Many times I was asked to photograph the community that included retail space and schools. The police would always show up at the schools and ask me to leave, which I did. It shouldn’t be any different now.

      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on May 29, 2018 at 9:48 pm

        You bring up many valid points as the scope of these audits have moved out of the sole focus on law enforcement, and have begun to target civilians and other work places. They are less likely to find any special consideration in this market as the general public doesn’t usually support the rights of individuals, as they also have rights. It will cause a lack of support if the actions of auditors keep being antagonistic with the public. Thanks for the comment!



      • jose m amengual on June 4, 2018 at 4:23 pm

        There is no expectancy of privacy when in public. You might not like it, but, it’s not illegal. If you don’t like this constitutional right, then start a petition to amend the first amendment.



      • Sean Martin on July 12, 2018 at 5:56 am

        Rick I think you are missing the point; these “punks” are exercising their rights which they have a right to do, like it or not. By the way, how many video cameras are watching you while your in a public building like a post office; 5 or 6? Why is 1 more camera such a big deal; is it because the government isn’t operating it but some “punk” is? This has already been addresses by the greatest document besides the bible that was ever written: the Constitution of the united States of America. We are a free society and we will get on each others nerves from time to time, deal with it and enjoy your freedoms. WWG1WGA. God Bless.



  31. Jon Stenberg on May 8, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Citizens should assume the best from all law enforcement and give them the benefit of doubt. It is a hard job, especially in inner cities. If one lets you down, it is on that officer, not the profession.

    Law enforcement should assume the best from all citizens and give them the benefit of doubt. Their welfare and benefit is the ONLY reason law enforcement exists in the first place.

    This is an excellent thread and good discussion. Thank you SGT Brett.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on May 22, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      Excellent point demonstrating a need for balance between police and the public we serve. With a little light shed on both sides, I bet we can meet somewhere in the middle and improve police / community relations. Thanks for the post!

  32. Carl Malone on April 22, 2018 at 12:22 am

    First Amendment audits are pure good entertainment, so many cops just instantly go insane and start acting like clowns or worse.

    Such good advice from the writer. If you ignore them they just leave and likely won’t ever visit your agency again. They are looking for idiots not professionals. Ignore and act professional and they will leave. Many auditors will actually give your agent good press if you follow the law.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on May 3, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you. Therein lies the focus of the training. We appreciate the audits as they have shown us some of the concerns already echoed by the community. These audits have provided us a springboard to train others to enhance the professionalism of our trade.

  33. Mike on April 18, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    In 22 years, you have only seen good cops?

    Congratulations.

    You have absolutely zero credibility.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on May 3, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      I applaud your narrow focus. Personally yes, I have seen and worked with only good police officers. This doesn’t count the media reports and third hand information I have received. Given the thousands of police officers working in the United States, I am sure there will be bad apples contributing to a bad image. Just as in any profession or trade. So attack my credibility but I am honest.

    • WhyMyName AmIBeingDetained on June 2, 2018 at 3:10 am

      I too am skeptical of that claim in the abstract, but don’t forget that if Sgt. Brett is a good person, bad cops would always present a good face to him. No doubt he’s met cops that broke the rules, but he gives them the same presumption of innocence absent evidence that I would demand of him as a citizen.

      So don’t be so harsh. All we know about him is that he wrote a good article with good advice, let’s support that.

      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on June 8, 2018 at 1:13 am

        Thank you for the feedback. Yes I am sure that I have been fooled by some “bad” officers in the past. In 22 years, most of the time has been in patrol and I have worked with many a great officer. I would easily say that the majority of police officers intend well, try their best, and go home to families just like everyone else. We have a hard job and with growing expectations of our profession (law enforcement, social justice, family therapy, third parent, morality police), it is no wonder some of the officers are troubled by something so basic as a camera and an audit. Our goal at CALRO is to make clear the limitations of police authority in the fields of the Constitution. Some laws are very clear, and some are very grey. Keep up the support!



  34. Thomas Kana on April 2, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Hey there. Funny thing – I stayed up way too late last night watching too many First Amendment audits….which led to videos of police being videotaped while (often mis)managing traffic stops, and other interactions with police because individuals were “looking suspicious,” “standing around,” etc. I live in North Dakota, a very police-friendly state. I generally support the police, but the limited interactions (<10) I have had with them have all been negative. I've not been beaten, yelled at, etc., but it seems like police are unable to 1. hold (or at least act like they hold) a positive view of their fellow citizens, 2. differentiate between a murderer and a speeder, 3. explain rationally why he/she is doing something, saying something, or behaving in a certain way, 4. understand that people (all people) make mistakes. So, I appreciate so much these videos (that you seem to disparage somewhat) as they help us all see that our rights can easily be trampled. I'll never conduct a First Amendment audit myself, but hopefully these sorts of videos can show both the proper behavior of police (and the human, personal side) that you advocate, and the completely embarrassing behavior so that those individuals can be terminated, sanctioned, etc.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on May 3, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      Yes and I agree. There is an issue in general law enforcement with certain officers being unable to differentiate between a serious criminal and a traffic violator as you say. I believe this lies in the training and the focus of the law. Truth being said, any violation of ANY law or code can result in your detention, at the discretion of the officer. Remember that many officers behavior predicates on the behavior of the violator, but not always. We are trying to train proper responses and focus on community and Constitutional protections, while keeping officers safe and focused on public safety.

      • MyNameWhy AmIBeingDetained on June 2, 2018 at 3:17 am

        Sgt. Brett, let’s not forget that a large part of the problem also lies in legislation. So many things are illegal and people have no idea. That’s not the police’s fault, but they have to be the interface in the public interaction.

        That said, I think another problem is that police often get a jaded view of the public due to repeated negative experiences. Another very human reaction, but this is one that, unfortunately, it’s your job to deal with. The public cannot be expected to account for such things.



  35. Brandon on March 12, 2018 at 5:13 am

    I agree that many of these people do these things for attention, and views, and all that crap, but if anyone’s going to blame them, or hate them, then chances are you’re part of the problem. Constitutional laws are made void on a Dailey basis by police, court officials, and just about any government employee. Cops murder people all the time. And no, I’m not saying all cops are bad, but from my personal experience, most are. You work for privatized prisons, essentially. It stopped being about the people, and became about generating revenue. I’ve never filmed a cop before, but I’m going to start the next time I get stopped for walking down the street. Which has happened a lot.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on March 15, 2018 at 12:44 am

      Brandon, I am sorry to hear that most of your contacts with police have been bad. I have worked as a law enforcement professional for over 22 years and in my experience, I have only seen good police. I (and many of my peers) treat others as we would like to be treated. We do have a tremendously difficult job, which often takes a toll on us long after we hang up the badge and gun. One thing I wish to pass along to my peers (as I was shown) is that our job doesn’t have to be an “us versus them” show. We can work along with the public to accomplish our mission. I know that a vast majority of people support the police, and a lawful society. I am curious as to what part of the country (state?) you live in and experience poor contacts with law enforcement?

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on May 3, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      I encourage you to film the contact Brandon. Most of the officers in my area are already wearing cameras to also film encounters. This protects the public from unprofessional behavior and also protects the officer from false accusations. Personally, I have seen that when my camera is on and the person being encountered knows it, the contact goes way smoother than years before.

  36. Jack Dempsey on February 15, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Here’s a few suggestions:

    1) Remember that contrary to your own opinion, you aren’t gods with unlimited power;
    2) The First Amendment.

    Maybe if more of you did what was suggested, ignore them and they will leave, then we will see less and less of the “good cops acting bad” and more videos showing police actually honoring their oath (HAHAHAHAHA) and first amendment audits that earn passing scores.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on March 15, 2018 at 12:37 am

      That is one of the points of our training and a focus of what we’re doing. We would like to reach all officers and remind them of the sensitive nature of the First Amendment and to honor it. Understandably, many officers are also focused on supporting the rights of all other people, which sometimes are trampled on by another’s First Amendment right. Therein lies a sticky situation for everyone involved, especially the police who are supposed to remain neutral and non-judgmental.

  37. Mark S on February 5, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    The First Amendment auditors here in Arizona have gone one step further and now wait outside the gated areas filming undercover vehicles and patrol cars coming and going. They capture the license plates of all the cars that come and go. They have also been wandering the employee and visitor parking lots video taping all the license plates in the lots.

    This can bring danger to Law Enforcement Officers as those that could be watching these videos will have reference of what to look for if police are on an undercover operation.

    It could also bring danger to LEOs’ families.

    • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on February 5, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      Wow that’s tough to hear. We see that the First Amendment audits are occurring more and more across the Country. This is largely in part due to online media sharing sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Many of the auditors are more in it for views than educating the law enforcement community. Protect your posted no trespassing spots, but remember that they can be anywhere the public can be and they can film what they can see. Consider privacy screening along fences and plants to deter access to off limits areas.

    • BigPoppaaz on August 26, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      Are these actions, you mention, a misdeameanor or a felony? Your sense of “security” does not impede the 1st Amendment rights of Americans. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. What’s sad and DOES OCCUR are the violations of Anericans civil liberties, by authoratarian LEO’s who don’t know, like, or care about citizens rights. Within the “secure areas” of the tax payer funded department, implement the policy and procedures which make you feel secure, outside of that embrace the liberties afforded to us all.

      • mm Sergeant Ryan Brett on September 3, 2018 at 11:32 pm

        I like it! That’s about the perfect summarization of what I am trying to get out to everyone, and hope that, with training and education, my fellow officers can approach situations like audits with professionalism and confidence that not everyone is out to get us. I can only imagine how great it would be to work WITH my local auditors in sharing what it is like to be a police officer on the streets these days. Our job isn’t getting easier, but we must grow and change with the times. Thanks for the post!

        Sgt. Brett



  38. Lisa on October 10, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Being aware and armed with responses and a 6th sense on whether or not you are dealing with a dangerous individual is important for your field of work. Training is a great way to be armed with the tools and defenses you need to assess and handle all different types of people. Fear of being harmed or being portrayed unjustly is a concern, however when I watch an officer being filmed overreact, it’s hard not to wonder if there aren’t better ways for him/her to handle these kind of issues. It seems for CALRO, helping the deputy or officer win and have victory over the situation is the ultimate goal. The problem isn’t going away anytime soon and seems to only be growing.

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