Privacy concerns ignored E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

In Maryland, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald B. Rubin has ruled that the county’s plan to record conversations in police cruisers does not violate the state’s wiretap laws or infringe on the privacy of police officers. “There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in an officer’s patrol car,” Rubin said in his ruling, issued just a month ago.

“Additionally, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when an individual has a conversation with a police officer, with few exceptions, such as confidential informants,” the Judge wrote in his decision.

The few exceptions would probably not take place during the times when the recorder is turned on, the judge continued. “Since there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a patrol car or in conversations with police officers, the Maryland Wiretap Act is not implicated.”

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 had argued that the county’s plan to set up audio and video equipment in cruisers violated the state wiretap law. Attorney Jeffrey L. Gibbs, who represented the FOP, said that the officers should be able to turn the audio recording equipment on and off because recording all the conversations might put the officers in legal jeopardy under the state wiretap law, he said.

However, Assistant County Attorney Sharon Burrell said that the county, not the officers, would be liable and that the officers in public cars doing the public’s duty on the county’s time do not have an expectation of privacy.

In his ruling, Rubin said there was no reason to overturn the arbitrator’s decision.

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