Sunday, January 31, 2010

Little brother is watching



I shot a video clip at a local school fair that showed police cars careening around a field. It happened a year ago. I have kept the footage all this time because initially I didn't know how to get the material off the phone and onto my computer. Bluetooth connection between the two devices just wasn't happening. I solved the problem with a little memory card, downloaded it, then forgot all about it. I have been shooting and editing video recently so I was reminded that I had it on file and decided to post it.

The clips show two police patrol cars driving at speed on the school field. Aboard are children who have paid for the joy ride.

During the incident the cars drive at speed in a confined space between an ice cream truck and a inflatable bouncy castle. Children line up for ice cream and play without concern.

I have no malicious intention or axe to grind. Some commenters imply I am biased for some reason (I have since disabled comments because of vitriolic and threatening remarks). I have no bias and only the highest general regard for Police who perform their duties, which are often appalling (and, no, I wouldn't change places with them). That doesn't mean they always get things right though, they are humans, like the rest of us.

Some comments on YouTube implied that, because police are trained drivers my observation is fatuous. Who knows, they might be right, but without information about who was driving and their level of skill at the time it is impossible to make an informed comment about that. In principle one could reasonably argue that an experienced, skilled and trained driver would be circumspect about engaging in such a demonstration. Things go wrong, even for the most skilled people. Just recently a New Zealand Air Force pilot, a senior member of the aerobatics squad, was killed during a routine manoeuvre in training.

Yesterday a journalist from the Dominion Post called to ask about the clip. It is in the paper this morning.

The article said the police would be requesting the original footage to determine whether it had been tampered with. "…Police National Headquarters spokeswoman Debbie Corney said police in Waitemata district would be requesting the original footage to establish its authenticity and "speaking to staff to determine exactly what happened" The comment is telling - the initial reaction is to lash out - is it authentic? It is just as you see it. Crudely shot, in low resolution but all the footage is complete and joined together simply from it's raw form. Nothing has been sped up or altered. As for speaking to staff to determine what 'exactly' happened? Well, once again the, the video speaks for itself. Staff will only be able to subjectively interpret events like anyone else, myself included.

In part I regret posting the clip, I am not interested in bagging the Police generally and I accept that some people feel that I have been unfair. I simply recorded and commented on the event.

But it has been instructive in a sense. People in the public eye need to be aware that cameras are everywhere. I often have three cameras with me (while my old Samsung phone - that I shot this footage with is pretty rough, I also have point and shoot HD). I never know when something interesting will become material to be shared. Most times the material I do share is mundane and barely warrants a notice. Who knows, footage you or I capture might solve a crime one day?

This is the era of social media. You and I have access to our own private channels - this blog, Posterous, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook… did I say channels - I meant networks. It is a fact of life.

Sometimes the mainstream media will pick up the story. I have had photos of other observations picked up in the past - such as candyfloss in the fruit and veges section of the supermarket - media voraciously consume 'content'.

Curiously enough even mundane material is deemed more 'important' when it is in the newspaper or on TV then buried amongst the millions of clips and images on YouTube. My clip would have been ignored if the journalist hadn't been listening out on Twitter and it would only have been part of the conversation in my limited networks. I'm not interested in leading a crusade (unless it is to improve men's health)

This morning other media outlets have been contacting me through Twitter and Facebook. Interestingly the clip isn't news. It is an artifact, a year old, something to discuss and think about. I am not interested in being drawn into an antagonistic conversation about the police generally.

17 comments:

  1. You were awfully quiet for a man who was concerned. Why was there no audio from you commenting on exactly why you were filming? When I film something that I disagree with, I always state that and include some facts so that it is recorded appropriately.
    Also, I didn't hear any other parents or teachers, or anyone, complaining, or showing concern.

    I don't honestly think your headline on youtube for that clip was fair, and I believe you have made a mountain out of a molehill as the whole thing seemed very tame, and very controlled.

    I really would be interested to know your TRUE motivation behind this clip becoming a news headliner NOW, at this point in time? If it was that much of an issue and you hoped to bring about some sort of resolution then why was this not brought to the medias attention back when you shot it? I'm sure someone at the tv3 news room could have taught you how to upload your clip.

    I think you have over reacted, and you should remove the clip to save yourself from further embarrassment - or at least maybe change the heading and admit that you did over react. I don't know...just a suggestion.

    I'm not here to attack you, just to share my thoughts, and maybe find out exactly what the story is here. You clearly have an issue, but is it actually with this particular footage, or something else?

    By the way... you are very right. You, or any one of us, could well help to solve a crime with our footage someday. We could save someones life even. And let's face it, if it weren't for people out there filming all sorts of random things, where would a lot of our footage come from for news, reality shows and funniest home video shows?

    Keep filming, get some great stuff, but on this occasion with the police driving...keep it in context and maybe post it with the view to finding out what other people think? Some things are going to rile us up more than others, and sometimes emotions kick in when judging a situation. We're not always right when we are worked up about something. So if you post it and say "I have my own thoughts on this, but what do you think?"..... then it leaves it open for discussion and conclusions.

    Good luck with your future clips. I reckon you will get something pretty major someday.

    p.s...nope, I'm not a cop! lol! I'd love to be a detective, but not so fussed on the 2 years probation..... lol

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  2. Anonymous1:29 pm

    If you think that is dangerous, you are an idiot.

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  3. Anonymous3:19 pm

    David,

    Regarding your comment:

    "I am not interested in being drawn into an antagonistic conversation about the police generally"

    However, your video clip starts with:

    "New Zealand Police show the public how to drift, donut, endanger children and make a mockery of the governments safety message".

    This remark appears to direct criticism towards the "New Zealand Police" as a collective. Is this not what was intended ?

    Thanks,

    Patrick

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  4. Anonymous3:20 pm

    The big issue is of course, if you were so concerned by the actions you recorded, why did you not complain to the police on the day it happened?
    Surely their "astonishingly bad judgement" would have had you running to the nearest police station to report it. In fact, why haven't you done that even now? Perhaps it is you that has shown the bad judgement in releasing this in the way you have so long after the event. You're not interested in being drawn into antagonistic conversation. What did you think would happen? Perhaps even the most skille bloggers get it wrong huh!!

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  5. Anonymous3:35 pm

    Yeah .... it's a hard one all right. 20 years ago it wouldn't have even rated a discussion, but now we have created a society so PC that one move and you are in the gun! But yes! It is a bit hypocritical in the face of all the publicity about poor driving ...

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  6. Anonymous3:38 pm

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. Anonymous4:57 pm

    what is your problem? they wernt doing doughnuts, the wernt powersliding and they didnt look like at any point they were out of control they weren "at speed" and they certanly wernt "careening around" and the only kids i saw in the video were buying icecreams from mr whippy (a big vehicle that could stop most things if it was hit), i couldnt see any on the bouncy castle and the angle you were filming them on (near the bouncy castle) is an angle that makes it look closer than they actualy were getting, also it looked like the area was cordend off anyway, from what i saw in the video they werent doing anything dangerious i doubt they were going faster than 20ks, the police cars are modified holden commodores with better suspention, breaks and general handling and responce i would have no problem with my kid being near them driving like that so i want to know what your issue is? or are you just sensationalising this whole thing, put down the bubble wrap for all of our sakes and use a little bit of interlectual discression when posting things like this, because now my tax payer money is being used to fund an investigation, i have a young family and would rather my tax payer money be spent on more important things. im not attacking you and i do not intend to offend im just offering a differnt point of view and wondering why they were conciderd to be driving dangeriously?

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  8. I conceded some of the points being made are valid. I did think the incident was 'off' at the time. My sister, whose kids attended the school pleaded with me not to make a fuss. That, combined with the fact I had no idea how to move it from the phone to the computer meant I just put it aside and let it go.

    When I reviewed the material recently I felt it made for a thought provoking item. This blog is called ThoughtSpurs, after all.

    I did not approach any media to promote the clip, the Dominion Post picked it up from a remark I made on Twitter. Other media have picked up on the story.

    As it happens, having had a conversation with the commander of the North Shore police on the phone I am satisfied that they take the matter seriously. My opinion is that there is a positive benefit arising from the matter is procedures are tightened to protect not only the public but also cops who might make a 'judgment' call that proves to be a bad one.

    Many commenters have suggested that I am overly PC. I hope not. I agree that kids are over protected in society and need to feel safe an confident out and about in the world. I encourage it in my own kids. I hope they have the good sense to avoid stupid situations though. There are degrees of risk.

    There is an element of vitriol running through the remarks of some. Others question my motivation. As I have said, it became an interesting artifact and topic of discussion. It was not my intention for it to be picked up by a news outlet and I approached none. It was intended for my own web networks, people with whom I have regular and useful conversations and connections.

    It is interesting to see the ugly side of the web too. My personal belief is that anonymous commenters are generally to be ignored. You own you own words on the web.

    This morning I was tempted to remove the video from YouTube. But that would mean that people would not be able to view the material and make up their own minds.

    Please feel free to add your thoughts, but if they are simply hates speech I'm not going to give you a forum. It they are reasonable - even in opposition to my thoughts then I am genuinely interested.

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  9. Anonymous5:04 pm

    the police safe driving campaign is a mochery of its self. its not about safe driving its all the ignorant people out there who cant drive and have no concept of vehicle control that are the problem. 3 weeks ago i drove down to tauranga and i swear no one person was driving at the speed limit of 100kph they were doing 70-80 kph oh and this wasnt driving to conditions either, it was a stunning and perfect day for driving

    dont make the roads worse than they allready are

    actualy maby an add campaign on how to merge correctly should be created seeing as most people cant even "merge like a zip"

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  10. Anonymous5:07 pm

    Have you read the stuff.co.nz page on this topic? There's 183 nice shiny comments by people who think you're majorly overreacting.

    I see no issue with this. You've made a bit of a fool of yourself really. If this had actually been something you were concerned, you would have talked to the Police at the time, not gone and stuck it up on YouTube over a year later. To be quite honest, that seems like a gutless reaction and hints that the cops have gotten you a bit disgruntled - did you get a speeding ticket, perhaps?

    Maybe you did, maybe you didn't, but that's how it looks to the rest of NZ. Maybe you should take the video down or at least change the title. You're already the laughingstock of everyone who has read the article, as the comments show.

    The Police do some amazing work in this country. Have some more respect for what seems to be a harmless show but extremely skilled drivers.

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  11. Anonymous6:26 pm

    I'm sorry but this just seems like a big waste of time on your behalf and a waste of police time "investigating". I can't tell from the video that they drive "extremely" close and even if they were I'm sure the cars are more than capaple to stop if seomthing did go wrong. I think if you were so worried then 2 years ago you should have taken it to the police. To try and turn it into a big public issue is just silly. As of yet no other person, parent or child has come forward to complain about the matter publically as you have and it seems like no one has anyway. I honestly think this is just you getting your knickers in a bunch about nothing. I see nothing to discuss but the fact that you have wasted police time and resources. The fact that they even came and spent there own time raising money for the school is brilliant. It's a pity police can't even take a bunch of kids for a ride round a feild without some way too pc tosser kicking up a stink about it. Chill out, have a beer. Heck! Go jay walking! Live on the edge!

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  12. Anonymous7:26 pm

    I get the feeling that someone got a speeding ticket recently and thinks this is a good way to get his own back. Either way there will be thousands of dollars spent investigating this, money we can ill afford to spend if we believe what the papers tell us. There are people out there who have nothing better to do than complain. I have looked carefully at this video and I challenge anyone to point out a specific dangerous point

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  13. Anonymous7:40 pm

    Man boy are you having a go at the police . Do you have beef with them, have you had a traffic ticket and is this a way to get back at them I wonder.
    It looks pretty tame to me and it gave kids some joy and fun, did Santa not give you any toys this Christmas and are you being a bit Grinch like.

    Or are you trying to get free publicity for your blog.

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  14. Anonymous7:47 pm

    I agree with David. To me this seems irresponsible. The amount of negative comments doesn't surprise me. Only a small fraction of population thinks rationally and is capable of displaying independent reasoning. All the rest are driven by mob mentality. Additionally, it's quite likely (judging by the content of most comments) that most people posting responses on websites like Stuff.co.nz and Yahoo are quite young with no real life experience and/or low level of erudition. I wouldn't take seriously anyone who uses words like "tosser", "dork", etc. That's not constructive criticism. Not all comments are like that, but most seem to have been made by people who just wanted to fit in with the masses (bandwagon effect).

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  15. Anonymous8:18 pm

    It's an interesting issue, and I can appreciate the concern you might have upon seeing such a situation, however I do think your reaction is unwarranted.

    To the untrained or uninformed the event may look dangerous, and there's a good argument to make that on that grounds alone it was a poor decision by Police. However there's a host of factors to consider.

    Firstly, I don't believe there was anything actually dangerous about what was happening. All police officers undergo rigorous driver training at the Police college, including high speed pursuit and how to handle vehicles that have loss of traction. More than likely the officers driving these cars would have been senior experienced staff, but even assuming they're not, they have more than sufficient skills to keep the car where they want it.

    Secondly, the vehicles were not being driven in a reckless manner. I did not see a single incident, on your video, of any car losing traction. They were making a series of sharp turns, yes, but this in itself demonstrates the vehicles were maintaining traction, as it is impossible to perform such a turn without sliding the tail if there is loss of traction. The vehicles are not travelling fast. I doubt either of them ever exceeded 40km/h. Consider that smaller confined spaces, and spaces you do not expect to see a car, give the illusion that it is travelling faster than it is. We allow our children to play on footpaths with cars travelling past at 50km/h without safety barriers or marshalls, and the average driver is woeful compared to a police officer's driving skillset.

    Finally, I did not see any vehicle travelling even at the modest top speed they achieved when anywhere near people. There was considerable separation.

    Aside from the danger of the activity, there is the public image, and in this case I think there is an argument, but I can see why the police did what they did.

    For police, connecting with children in a positive way is one of the most effective way of ensuring they have the public on their side. This is why police put so many resources into having officers visit classrooms and so forth. Children who have a positive view of officers are more likely to grow up to be adults who respect the police.

    Children are not going to be worried by this event. If I know children, overwhelmingly they will think it was great, and their opinion of police will be greatly boosted. A few adults such as your self may understandably think less of the police, but frankly from their view making a firmer bond with a crowd of children easily offsets upsetting a handful of adults.

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  16. Since you were kind enough to divulge your own name David, I will divulge mine (Kevin Lewis).

    I've watched your clip and read the commentary on YouTube, I'm sorry but I have to agree with the multitude of nay sayers to your comments. Several of the comments that stuck to mind were
    A) That the drivers are "doing donuts and showing poor judgement"
    B) That had this been a sanctioned motorsport event there would have been marshals, and safety barriers protecting/seperating the public from the cars
    C) That the police are showing poor judgement in charging money for this sort of thing.
    and D) That the Police officers are on duty.
    I reply:

    A)At no time during your video did it appear that either of the police cars lost traction on the grass in a manner indicating and intentional act of irresonsiblity. The speed at which the vehicles are travelling does not appear to be great and at no time do the drivers appear to be "racing". There is a lot of dust being kicked up by the vehicles that is typical of a dry grass surface once the "wet" upper layers of grass are removed by the simple wear and tear of the vehicles passing over it, this can be misconstrued on camera making the vehicles speed appear higher than it actually is.
    The proximity of the Police Cars to the Bouncy Castle and Ice Cream truck cannot accurately be judged from your video due to A) the camera angle and B) the video quality(no offense intended)
    B) As an active member of a MANZ affiliated motorsport club, I can inform you that there are several forms of "sanctioned" events that do not require any forms of safety equipment other than a course laid out by road cones (which as you will be aware will do nothing to avert catastrophe should the worst happen) and a fire extinguisher. The subject of marshals IS a valid point however at those events a LOT of responsibility for children and the general public is put onto the individuals and parents supervising the children; and the dangers of such events are usually pointed out by the organisors at the commencement of the event. ALL forms of motorsport have unique hazards and any person attending, participating, organising or simply observing such events should recognise that fact, as indeed you have, however you should also be aware that all forms of motorsport are attended by the public at their own risk and all events I have been to or competed in have identified that fact in large signage around the venue. But lets be realistic, this is NOT a motorsport event nor does it bear any resemblence to one, it is a school gala. These vehicles once put on camera will always appear to be moving at an accelerated pace and I have footage that will back that comment up, which you are welcome to view at any time.

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  17. Continued

    C) That these drivers show poor judgement in charging money for what they are doing. From what I understand the Police officers were raising money for the school and not themselves, Police Cars and Kids, you have to admit it is a guaranteed recipe for success and I know of no child that would not bug their mum or dad for $1 or $2 to go for a ride, heck some of the dads probably begged mum for a ride. At a time when we need more police officers, I believe that this is a moment that will stick in many of the childrens minds and influence their career paths in the future. This incident does not contest the road safety campaigns nor does it contradict the current "boy racer" laws, instead it hammers home a point that the police, car clubs, and other sanctioning organisations have been tryin to make for years. IT IS OK! BUT ONLY UNDER CONTROLLED CIRCUMSTANCES. With all the bad publicity surrounding the Police at the moment, they need the freedom to do something like this. In Hamilton many years ago, a Police officer was reprimanded for doing a burnout at a Police organised drag and burnout meeting, whilst emphisas was placed on the misuse of Police vehicles (which I do not condone) no mention was made that up until that act there was a tense standoff at the event between Police wanting these "hoons" to do something (believing they would leave and do burnouts elsewhere illegally) and the "hoons" being afraid that to do so would result in punishment from the Police and the impounding of their vehicles. Had that officer not broken the ice with his act, the night would have been a failure and the Police efforts rendered a waste of time. From what I understand the night was a success.

    C) I have no doubts that the officers were on duty at the time, liasing with the public is just one of many duties that officers will perform. I also have no doubts that had an emergency occured requiring the officers attendance they would have complied without fail. This is not simply a case of two Police officers hooning around a paddock on company time with kids for passengers and abusing Police equipment, it is merely a public relations exercise that has been blown out of proportion by a concerned member of public.
    I suggest you need to perhaps step back and look at the even bigger picture than the one you are seeing, as a father myself I can appreciate and understand your concerns and perhaps I too would have posted the video for public debate myself. However, I feel that your concerns are somewhat unfounded and I would have posted the video in a less condeming manner and left more judgement in the hands of the viewer. The officers' in question should be congratulated, not condemmed for their participation. The attention and publicity surrounding this video may not be what you had intended but it is in part because of your comments on YouTube and the video itself. I ask you a question, which I would hope you would think deeply about before answering is simple: Had the same act been performed with Rally Cars, Hot Rods or Exotic Cars instead of Police Cars would you still have the same views you have about this incident and posted such a condemming video?

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