ERIC Number: EJ981106
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Reference Count: 6
Secretly Recording the Police: The Confluence of Communication, Culture, and Technology in the Public Sphere
Schaefer, Zachary A.
Communication Teacher, v26 n4 p199-202 2012
Mobile communication technologies have changed the way that police do their job. Since the Rodney King beating outside of Los Angeles in 1991, literally thousands of police brutality videos have surfaced on the internet that document perceived acts of violence carried out against seemingly defenseless perpetrators. Police organizations throughout the United States have responded by tightening their "physical force" policies and reminding their officers to use reasonable judgment when dealing with unruly individuals. Another consequence of the police brutality videos is that several states have changed their laws to make the unauthorized videotaping of a police officer a felony. While there are many opinions about these legal changes, the fact remains that the new laws can have a significant impact on citizens' lives. Through the activity described in this article the students gain a better understanding of why police organizations support serious legal consequences for secretly recording arrests and why many civil rights advocates have protested the legal changes. The issue boils down to a disagreement over the "right to privacy" in the public sphere. The issue is worth discussing because of evolving communication technologies and increased media coverage of unfortunate incidents. The point of this exercise is twofold: (1) to demonstrate the confluence between communication, technology, and culture; and (2) to challenge students to understand and effectively communicate about multiple perspectives regarding the same event. After completing the activity, students understand how evolving communication technologies impact people's lives in the public sphere. They also learn that communicating beliefs in an organized fashion can lead to political and legal transformations. This exercise gives students a concrete case study to better understand and take a position on the intersection of communication, technology, and culture within a specific setting. Students often have difficulty seeing how communication and technology are related to the larger concept of culture, but this activity helps them discuss how current communication technologies impact culture, and how that impact then shapes future communication behaviors. Students recognize that once cultural norms (e.g. laws) begin to change, communication practices will also eventually change.
Descriptors: Violence, Civil Rights, Video Technology, Police, Persuasive Discourse, Case Studies, Communications, Privacy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States