Boston cops are using the Massachusetts electronic surveillance laws to arrest and prosecute citizens who use their cellular phones to record abusive arrests. Though they haven’t been successful in prosecuting the acts, it hasn’t stopped the arrests — presumably the point isn’t to secure convictions, but rather to chill the recording of illegal police activity. However, police have convicted citizens who secretly recorded their own abusive arrests, charging them with illegal wiretapping.
Simon Glik, a lawyer, was walking down Tremont Street in Boston when he saw three police officers struggling to extract a plastic bag from a teenager’s mouth. Thinking their force seemed excessive for a drug arrest, Glik pulled out his cellphone and began recording.
Within minutes, Glik said, he was in handcuffs.
“One of the officers asked me whether my phone had audio recording capabilities,” Glik, 33, said recently of the incident, which took place in October 2007. Glik acknowledged that it did, and then, he said, “my phone was seized, and I was arrested.”
The charge? Illegal electronic surveillance.