PINAC reporter Jeff Gray was enjoying some traveling with his family in central Georgia when he decided to slip away to conduct a seatbelt audit on the Warner Robins Police Department, which is where he stands on public property outside the department to record officers as they drive away to see if they are wearing seat belts.
After all, not only does state law require all drivers to wear seat belts, most law enforcement agencies, including this one, have departmental policies also requiring the use of seat belts.
And as Gray points out in his video, the number one cause for law enforcement fatalities on a yearly basis is traffic fatalities.
But a Warner Robins cop determined he was acting suspicious by recording them in public, even if they did not have an expectation of privacy.
It only took a few minutes into his seat belt audit when a Warner Robins patrol cruiser pulls up with a relatively friendly, but persistent, cop wearing sunglasses and going through his police academy mantra, insisting Gray needs to hand over his identification.
“How you doing?” the Georgia cop asks with a friendly drawl as he pulls up?
“Good, how are you?” asks Jeff, matching the drawl.
“Can I help you?” asked the cop, as if Jeff was seeking help from police.
“No thanks. I’m good.”
“Do you have some ID on you?
Because you’re out here taking pictures of the police department; that’s why.
“Is that illegal?” Jeff asked rhetorically.
“No but it’s suspicious. And I got every means to talk to you.”
“K, am I being detained?”
“No, but I need to see some ID.”
“K, if I’m not being detained, have a nice day.”
“You said I’m not being detained, right?”
“But I got every legal right to ask you for your ID if what you’re doing is suspicious.”
“That’s not suspicious, taking photographs.”
“Yes, it is.” the cop insisted.
“I’m an investigative journalist.”
“If you have nothing to worry about, you have nothing to worry about,” the cop argued.
“Am I being detained?”
“What are you doing?” asked the cop as if he didn’t hear the first answers.
“I’m gathering information for a story that I’m working on.”
“OK, if that’s legitimately what you’re doing and, are . . . why do you have a problem with me needing your ID?”
“Am I being detained?” Jeff asked again.
“I’m asking you a question,” said the cop.
“If I’m not being detained I’m gonna be on my way.”
“What are you . . . I mean if you are legitimately out her taking a pic, uh, photos for a story that you’re working on then you should have no problem showing me your ID.”
“Well, My name’s Jeff. I work for Photography is Not a Crime, PINAC News Services out of Miami. And, uh, I’m just gathering information about the story I’m working on. If I’m not being detained, I’m going to be on my way. ”
And that’s when the cop said , “Thank You and Have a Nice Day” before driving away in his car.
Jeff then placed himself in front of the department and explains the number one cause of cop fatalities are killed in their car, often they’re not wearing their seatbelt.
Gray reported that all the cops he saw that afternoon were wearing their seat belts.
UPDATE: Although Gray told us that he did not see any cops not wearing their seat belts, a reader pointed out that the cop who confronted Gray was not wearing a seat belt.
Gray said he did not notice at first because he had to concentrate on not getting arrested.
The Warner Robins Police Department also did not apparently see their officer was not wearing a seat belt, judging by their response to the video on Twitter.