August 20, 2014

Ferguson, MO.: Reporters have no right to trespass on private property

Does anyone know of another profession, outside of law enforcement, where so many people profess to know more about how to do the job than those who have been trained to do it? Seriously, I cannot think of any profession that is second-guessed and criticized to such a degree.

For example, I was just listening to a radio program where an activist (I didn’t catch his name, however, his comments have been expressed by many people) was criticizing Ferguson police officers for “abusing” the media by arresting two reporters who had refused management’s instructions to leave a McDonald’s and police officer’s orders to leave, citing First Amendment abuses.

This activist suggested the cops need to be retrained. How presumptuous and, sadly, ignorant is that? If he knew even the basics about law enforcement, he would know the officers did their job according to policy and law. However, since the critic’s constricted view of this law enforcement action didn’t conform to his uniformed perspective, and with no comments from the officers involved, he criticized how they preformed their duties. This, even though the critic has zero law enforcement training while even a rookie cop has successfully completed and graduated from a law enforcement training academy.

Let me ask you: How would you respond: Riot conditions exist in the streets. The McDonald’s manager calls the police and reports they have some people who won’t leave the restaurant when asked. First, the responding officers don’t care what the occupation of the trespassers are, once the owner asks a person to leave their private property, that person must leave. Period! The First Amendment does not give reporters special rights to trespass on private property.

Second, once the cops arrive and do their duty by instructing the trespassers that they need to leave, the officers, needed for emergencies and riot associated activities, don’t have the time to discuss the trespassers’ personal questions. Can you imagine if a cop, dealing with a crowd, had to stop to discuss the situation with every person who asks? Once the officer says leave, the person is obligated to leave or they are failing to comply with the officer’s lawful order, which is breaking the law and they are subject to arrest. Trespassing and refusing to obey an officer’s lawful orders are crimes.

People in the TV audience, like the critic, get only a fish eye view of what occurred in the restaurant. They see stern officers giving people stern instructions to people to leave private property, and in response, those people refuse to leave. They don’t see the melee occurring outside, to which the officers should be responding and not wasting their time with indignant news reporters who would rather waste the town’s resources and the officers’ time by breaking the law.

What are the officers supposed to do? They responded to a storeowner’s valid complaint. The cops are mandated to enforce the law once the complainant has called and a crime is determined to have been committed. The officers didn’t take the reporters, who were, in fact, trespassing, into custody immediately. Instead, they gave instructions over and over again for them to leave the restaurant, which the reporters ignored.

To avoid arrest, all the reporters had to do was leave the restaurant.



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