A North Carolina cop is under investigation for harassing a citizen who was exercising his First Amendment right to video record a police building from a public sidewalk after a video went viral last week, showing the cop making mocking remarks about the citizen’s mental health and threatening to have him committed against his will.
Winston-Salem Police Lt. R.B . Rose detained Rick Goins for more than 20 minutes, also making disparaging remarks about his social life and calling him a poor excuse of a father.
“Maybe we need to get him transported. Committed,” Rose told another cop on the scene before turning to Goins and saying, “you may be a danger to yourself, Mr. Goins.”
I got the car coming …. you can go voluntarily or we’ll go to the magistrate’s office and explain to them that you’ve been caught twice within the past two weeks videotaping police operations, gas pumps, which would be considered a threat.”
Winston-Salem police say they will also provide “additional training” to their department on the rights of citizens to record public buildings.
But in the same statement they released last week, they also encourage citizens to report citizens for doing the same thing this man was doing, which was nothing more than a First Amendment audit, a phrase coined by PINAC’s Jeff Gray that they refer to as a “national trend.”
So as usual, police are talking out of both sides of their mouth.
Winston-Salem Police Department – March 20, 2015
Earlier this week the Winston-Salem Police Department became aware of an encounter between a citizen, Richard Goins, and WSPD Police Lieutenant R.B. Rose (26-year veteran) that occurred at the City of Winston-Salem Public Safety Center. The encounter was videotaped by Mr. Goins and posted to YouTube and was apparently a part of the national trend titled “First Amendment Audit”. The First Amendment Audit appears to be a trend where citizens attract the attention of law enforcement or military security personnel to determine if those security personnel will infringe on their First Amendment rights.
During the encounter Lieutenant Rose approached Mr. Goins because Mr. Goins appeared to be photographing the critical infrastructure of the Police Department facilities.
Additionally, WSPD personnel were aware that Mr. Goins had been observed on other occasions videotaping various government facilities in Winston-Salem, including the Hiram H. Ward Federal Building, the Forsyth County Hall of Justice, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Winston-Salem Transit Authority Administrative Building and vehicle fuel pumps.
Lieutenant Rose approached Mr. Goins due to his concern for the safety of the Public Safety Center and its personnel, and during the encounter Lieutenant Rose made comments to Mr. Goins that are concerning to our Agency. As a result, we have referred this matter to the WSPD Professional Standards Division (Internal Affairs) for an administrative investigation. An administrative investigation has the purpose of determining if WSPD personnel have violated any City of Winston-Salem or WSPD policies or procedures. If violations of policy are determined to have occurred, it is City of Winston-Salem and Police Department policy to take appropriate corrective action. As we are in the preliminary stages of the administrative investigation, it is inappropriate to make conclusions at this time or speculate on any corrective action that may be taken against Lieutenant Rose.
The Winston-Salem Police Department will be providing additional training to our personnel regarding encounters with citizens that may be engaged in “First Amendment Audit” activities. Additionally, as citizens observe other citizens engaged in videotaping critical infrastructure or behaving in a manner that appears to be suspicious, we encourage our citizens to contact the WSPD or the Department of Homeland Security for response and investigation of the matter (https://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something). Also, our community remains susceptible to criminal activity and we encourage our citizens to contact the Police Department for investigation of that activity. The City of Winston-Salem and specifically the WSPD are always concerned for the safety of our community.
Winston-Salem city officials should also require additional training in regards to deleting comments from its Facebook page as they did to two PINAC researchers on March 19, whose comments below are no longer on the city’s Facebook page.
Last month, the San Diego Police Department paid $23,000 in attorney fees for deleting negative comments from its Facebook page, which it shut down after the suit was filed instead of just allowing citizens to speak their mind.
Whoever was administrating the Winston-Salem Facebook page apparently realized the comments were not going to stop because a number of critical comments remain from March 20 – the same day police released the above statement – including one with a link to the Honolulu story, so perhaps they realized they were digging themselves deeper in the hole by deleting the comments.
Although Lt. R.B. Rose is now being investigated by internal affairs, it’s a safe bet that they are only saying that to silence the critics and will eventually find he did nothing wrong as most internal affairs investigations turn out. And hopefully, Goins returns with his camera to ensure they did get the message.