By the look on his face, Detective Mike Jardine of the Camp Verde Marshall’s Office in Arizona was under the impression he was about to be punked by a hidden camera for a reality show.
The detective had walked out of his office to confront First Amendment auditor James Freeman who was walking around the parking lot with his camera recording, and demanded to know why he was recording. Cops just never seem to catch on that the whole point of the exercise is to see if their First Amendment right to record a government building is respected.
It’s settled case law but way too many police officers believe the Constitution can be suspended for their perceived safety.
“I’m just watching you take pictures of our parking lot,” Jardine says. “What’s this about?”
“Is that a problem?” Freeman asks.
“Yeah, this is a police/law enforcement parking lot,” responds Jardine.
From there, the conversation takes a comedic turn as Freeman begins peppering him with the same intrusive questions that cops demand of citizens upon almost every interaction.
Who are you? What are you working on? Where have you been today? Have you been here all day? Or have you been out and about?
“What is this about,” asks a confused Jardine. “Who are you?’
“I’m asking the questions,” responds Freeman. “Where have you been today?”
“No, I’m asking the questions,” responds Jardine.
By now, the conversation had taken a hilarious “Who’s on First” tone and Jardine was not sure whether he was asking or answering the questions.
“You’re on this property, you’re on this property, so you need to ask … answer my questions,” he says, stumbling through his words.
“Are you drunk?” Freeman responds. “Why are you slurring your words today?”
Jardine still does not know what to make of the situation, apparently never having watched any of the hundreds of videos online of citizens doing exactly what Freeman was doing.
Essentially, First Amendment auditors show up to a government building with cameras to see if the cops respect their right to record. You would think the cops would get it by now but many are still driven by their hyper-paranoia programming, “training” as they call it, which indoctrinates them into believing every citizen is a possible enemy combatant, especially if they happen to be carrying a camera.
Freeman continues to demand whether the cop had visited a bar that day and whether he had any drugs on him and whether he had used any drugs that day.
While they were talking, a uniformed deputy who had pulled into the parking lot was removing items from the back of his van.
“Do you know who this guy is?” Jardine asks the deputy.
“I don’t believe so,” the deputy responds, not appearing to share Jardine’s suspicions about Freeman.
“So he’s going around filming the entire parking area here,” Jardine tells the deputy. “And he says he’s an investigative journalist. I don’t know what he is doing here.”
Freeman continues to pepper him with questions and even asks the newly arrived deputy questions about Jardine’s alleged drinking but the deputy seems to catch on and walks away.
“Will you submit to a breathalyzer for me right now?” Freeman asks Jardine.
By now, Jardine is angry and getting into Freeman’s face, telling him he has “about five minutes to get out of here right now.”
“Or what?” Freeman asks.
The conversation gets heated with both of them yelling at each other before the deputy calls Jardine over, saving him from further embarrassment.
Watch the video below.