The Westworth Village Police Department has a very nice webpage where they outline how they deal with the public. They outline their core values, of integrity, accountability, professionalism, service, courage, and respect. These are worthy values, and exactly what police officers should do.
Unfortunately, they had an encounter that was posted on YouTube this weekend where not all of those values were displayed.
In the video, Officer R. Greer approaches David Worden, who goes by News Now Houston, and another photographer who goes by Dallas Activist. Greer asks what they are taking pictures of, and Worden answers. That’s the high point as far as professionalism gets in the encounter. Greer then tells the two that they don’t look like public photographers.
Ah, what do public photographers look like? You know, I spent over twenty years wearing a badge, and I’ve seen photographers who looked like an FBI agent from the 1950s, to a guy with a bright green mohawk haircut, and everything in between.
Greer is starting off in a confrontational manner, and it doesn’t get any better as time goes on. At about 2:25 in the video, Greer tries to tell the two that since he is answering a call about them, he has the right to demand that they identify themselves and that Worden and Dallas Activist do not have the right to refuse. He also adds that if they refuse to identify themselves that he can take them to jail.
At that point Dallas Activist tells Greer, correctly, that Greer needs to read “38.02”* which immediately and visibly pisses Greer off. Greer pops off that he doesn’t need “your law degree” – and Dallas Activist immediately shuts Greer down by pointing out that Greer has no idea if Dallas Activist has a law degree or not. Greer doesn’t like that and threatens arrest again, and when that doesn’t work, states that there are people who don’t want pictures taken in that area.
And then Greer blows up and screams “I’m not out here to get a bunch of lip from you!” Worden then tries to deescalate the contact, and Greer responds that he’ll “take it down when I’m ready to take it down.” That’s hardly the approach of a professional police officer, and it is certainly not the approach of one who is following the values of the Westworth Village PD. At this point Worden realized that the best option was to disengage, so he asked if they were being detained, and when Greer answered no, the two moved away from him.
I both called and emailed the Chief of Police, Kevin Reaves. Chief Reaves answered the email very promptly with their department’s press release, which stated that they were aware of the video, were going to look into the incident, and would address the concerns of the “posting organization.”
We should give them time to address this. I don’t know Officer Greer, and I could only evaluate him on this one incident, but he could be having a bad day and be a good officer normally. This may be something that training can take care of. Of course, it could be that Greer is just an ass who has no business on the street, too. Either way, it’s up to Chief Reaves now.
A few days ago, Chief Reaves released a statement acknowledging that Officer Greer was incorrect in his interpretation of the law on failure to identify, that the incident has been reviewed with Officer Greer, and that all personnel have received training on the matter. You really can’t ask for much more than that.
*Texas Penal Code §38.02, Failure to Identify.