Scottsdale police apologize for rude demeanor, look to learn from incident
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther has issued a formal statement to City Council regarding a Dec. 20 police call for service in Old Town where the patron of a business expressed concerns about being filmed without permission.
The incident: Scottsdale Police were called by an employee of a local business near Scottsdale Waterfront for a reported disturbance in the early evening hours on Dec. 20. When officers arrived, they contacted both the videographer and the individuals inside the business.
The video: ‘KAREN COP DESTROYED BY MAN WHO KNOWS THE LAW !!’ is published HERE on YouTube, captures commentary from the videographer, members of the Scottsdale Police Department and the owner of a local Scottsdale business.
In his memo to Scottsdale City Council, Chief Walther explains while the police officer recorded could have been more polite — zero laws were broken and now members of the local police department are receiving death threats and calls for resignation.
This is Chief Walther’s statement to City Council:
“I know that, like mine, your inboxes have been filled with email and voicemail from irate individuals around the country who are responding to a YouTube video posted yesterday by an individual who refers to himself as a travel vlogger, which isn’t completely accurate.
This ‘travel’ vlogger goes from city to city filming locations and businesses with the intention of angering a business owner to the point of calling the police, which happens often. Then, the videographer engages the police in a discussion hoping to entice them into saying or doing the wrong thing so he can post it to his YouTube channel.
We refer to these videographers as ‘First Amendment Auditors’ and they typically have a very large and vocal following amongst anti-police and anti-government individuals. Now, make no mistake, ‘First Amendment Auditors’ know what they’re doing and have a great understanding of constitutional law, especially when it comes to where they can be in the public space and where they can and cannot film.
Their goal is to anger, frustrate, and demean the officers to the point where they make a mistake or just behave unprofessionally toward the ‘First Amendment Auditor’ out of frustration, which happens frequently around the Valley, state, and country.
This is where SPD comes in.
In Scottsdale we are no stranger to ‘First Amendment Auditors’ as we encounter our local variety on a monthly basis. They are typically brash, aggressive, foul mouthed, and belligerent in their confrontation with our officers making it very easy to identify them as ‘First Amendment Auditors.’
The videographer/travel vlogger/First Amendment Auditor from Amagansett Press, is completely different from those that I just described as he is typically professional and often shares his knowledge of constitutional law and de-escalation tactics with officers. However, his goal is still the same, to get the officers to make a mistake of law or professionalism.
In the video link that I’ve attached for you, SPD Officer Carlyn Shepp does indeed fall for this trap and is chippy, condescending, and unprofessional in her dealings with the videographer, which gave him exactly what he wanted.
Amagansett Press has a nationwide following from those that connect with the mission of ‘First Amendment Auditors’ and their overall disdain for law enforcement. Thus, this video has now been viewed more than 300,000 times, which is why we have all been inundated with email and phone calls from this irate group of followers demanding that Officer Shepp be fired, jailed, or murdered.
Yes, you read that right.
We now have people calling for her death as the result of her having an unprofessional demeanor toward this ‘First Amendment Auditor.’ I want that to sink in for a moment because while her demeanor was not our finest hour of professionalism, she did not violate anyone’s rights, she did not make a false arrest, she did not use excessive force, and she did not use profanity.
She was rude, that’s it.
Yet, today we have had to provide security measures at Officer Shepp’s home because those who support or are associated with this ‘First Amendment Auditor’ have found and infiltrated her personal social media accounts and are threatening her safety on those platforms as well. Again, for being rude to a ‘First Amendment Auditor.’
I strongly encourage you to watch the video so that you have the information, firsthand, regarding this incident.
Finally, you have my unwavering commitment to continue to train my officers to be the very finest in this country but at the end of the day they are vulnerable human beings that occasionally make mistakes and behave condescendingly, as is the case here. They are not perfect but are still some incredibly amazing public servants who are committed to the safety of Scottsdale.
You have my apologies that we created an opportunity for this ‘First Amendment Auditor’ to paint an inaccurate picture of SPD and the city of Scottsdale.”