The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 19, 2013

Our View: Deputy acted outside of ethical boundary

— Thumbs down: To Ramsey County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacqueline Muellner who seized a citizen’s video camera while a bloodied man was frisked and loaded into an ambulance in a public place.

The deputy said she took the camera to protect the injured person’s privacy and cited the man, Andrew Henderson, for obstruction of the legal process. That’s a fine sentiment except that taking another’s property without permission is known as theft and seizing it without a warrant is usually illegal. And usually judges and juries get involved in privacy issues in what is known as the criminal justice system.

Because the individuals were all on public property, filming is within a citizen’s rights, as a Ramsey County Sheriff’s spokesman later conceded. The American Civil Liberties Union will be representing Henderson at no cost.

This kind of police overreach is not helpful to citizens who more and more find themselves having to get their own information to either reveal wrongdoing or protect their own rights.

Cars/bikes both to blame

Thumbs down: To motorists and bicyclists who spend too much time driving distracted and ignoring the rules.

There has always been a long-running blame game between cyclists and drivers, with cyclists saying motorists cause accidents and drivers saying bikers are reckless.

Turns out they were both right.

A new study of 270 bike-motor vehicle crashes in Minneapolis found that bikers’ actions contributed to 59 percent of the accidents while drivers actions contributed to 64 percent of accidents. In many of the accidents both the biker and the motorist did something wrong, which is why the numbers add up to more than 100 percent.

So stop arguing and everyone — on bike or in car — pay better attention. Motorists: Keep an eye out for bikes. Bikers: Traffic rules apply to you, too.

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