(Note: All of the following letters concern MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo’s recent arrest for attempting to film Maui Police Department’s Operation Recon, which we wrote about in our Nov. 29, 2012 cover story.)
Videotaping of police in the normal conduct of their business (including arrests) in a public place is completely covered under the 1st amendment. A quick internet search will yield many instances when police have over-stepped and the arrests have been thrown out of court. Principled police welcome video taping, it serves as witness to the good work that they do.
– Rhett Rebold, via MauiTime.com
After watching the video on the news, I must say the cops gave him a lot of warnings. All he had to do was listen and move. If you’re dumb enough not to listen to the cops telling you to do something in a calm way, you deserve to get arrested. People always complain about cops doing nothing but when there are complaints about things and they do something about it, stupid people only cry about it. Suck it up and mind your own business. And I’m pretty sure Russo could have just listed [sic] and waited till the cops finished the stop then he would have gotten a good explanation from the police about the traffic.
– Chester, via MauiTime.com
Finally somebody has the nerve to stand up to the Maui police. I’ve lived on Maui for almost 30 years and have had multiple interactions with the Maui Police Department where they have acted irresponsibly, I am now more afraid to dial 911 than face the consequences of an intruder.
I have half a dozen letters written on my computer that I decided not to send, because it is such a small island. Fear of backlash and harassment has kept me quietly afraid of them. Thank you. Thank you Tommy for making this truly a day of Thanks for people like you on Thanksgiving day.
– “Full Kama‘aina,” via MauiTime.com
Mr. Russo, if you are looking for an important journalistic task, perhaps you would want to consider partnering with the Maui Police and informing the public about the public safety issues they were enforcing. Although not a resident here, I suspect that the leading cause of criminal death on Maui is road collisions. Both of the violations indicated in your article put both drivers and pedestrians at greater risk.
Tinted windows prevent drivers from seeing other road users at night and more importantly prevent other drivers and pedestrians from establishing eye contact with the driver.
Lift kits on pick-up trucks alter the stability of the vehicle and make them unsafe, especially when attempting to make an evasive maneuver. The high bumper puts other drivers at risk, especially in intersection collisions.
Conducting vehicle stops and enforcement projects are a dangerous situation. That is why the officer depicted in your photos is wearing a reflective vest. Were you? Any traffic stop has the potential of confrontation, violence and in some instances gunfire. Were you prepared for such possibilities, or were you expecting the same officers that you were criticizing to look after you?
– Ted, via MauiTime.com
Maui Police are bullies. I can’t count how many I have seen them break the law while supposedly upholding it, from talking on their cell phones while driving to their speed racer driving antics. I have seen cops drive at least 70 to 80 mph down busy highways. Just because their lights are on doesn’t give them the right to break the law. It’s like they feel because they have a badge, they feel they are above the law.
These guys do whatever they want and if you speak up you get in trouble. As free citizens of the United States of America we are supposed to question authority. It is known that people in power abuse their power sometimes. Police are supposed to protect and serve. In Maui they beat you up for your milk money.
– “In Maui,” via MauiTime.com