Last week I interviewed Terry Bressi, the gutsy Arizona man whose nine-year effort won him a victory against the goons who dragged him out of his vehicle and illegally arrested him at highway checkpoint in December 2002.
While it wasn’t a complete triumph because none of the individual miscreants were punished and drivers continue to have their rights violated, it was still a serious win.
Terry notes, “Although I didn’t get the ruling/clarification I wanted from this legal action, my attorney reminds me that we squarely trounced them in the 9th circuit, pissed off the lower court judge to no end who’s dismissal was reversed, clarified years of ambiguous applicability of federal/state constitutional law to tribal law enforcement actors operating on public highways and scared them enough to force a six figure settlement.”
Terry also posted enough documentation online to enable some future Agitator to carry the right-to-travel cause even farther.
Last week’s post focused on mindset — what drove Terry to fight so hard and what kept him going when it must have been a terrible grind.
Today … it’s all about practicalities. Specifically it’s about how Terry recorded his roadblock experiences.
Under other circumstances, it might be enough to whip out your smartphone to record police thuggery and rights violations. But phones get confiscated, videos get deleted, cameras get “accidentally” damaged or not-so-accidentally crushed under bootheels.
Motorists — especially ones who challenge the cops — have special problems. They may be dragged out of their vehicles and out of range of dashboard cameras (their own or those of the police). Police searching a vehicle can wreak havoc on a simple camera setup. One camera might malfunction. A memory card might get “disappeared.” An adversary may come up from a side of the vehicle where no camera is pointed. Or other things might happen (and have happened to Terry) as he notes below.
So here, in his own words, is how Terry set up his vehicle.
At first glance, you might think Terry’s car has an elaborate recording setup. But hang in there. Below is a video from a hardcore freedomista whose car could star in Mission Impossible.
In Terry’s own words:
I haven’t detailed my camera setup online before but it’s pretty straight forward. I installed a 750 watt (1500 watt peak) inverter connected directly to the vehicle battery, through a 100+ amp in-line fuse, for converting the battery’s 12 VDC output to 120 VAC. This allows me to power quite a few recording devices and other electronic equipment with standard wall outlet power transformers.
After several incidents where the batteries in one of my cameras died while in the middle of filming a checkpoint encounter (rather embarrassing even if I do have a decent poker face when the need arises), I decided I really didn’t like relying on internal camera/recorder batteries for encounters of unknown duration. To remedy this, I installed the inverter and bought power supplies for most of the cameras.
I usually use two or three cameras in the cab of the vehicle – one pointing out the back, one looking out the passenger window and a third on the dashboard looking forward. The dashboard camera is setup on an industrial strength velcro strip so that I can pick it up easily and point it wherever I think it needs to be pointed. While three cameras may sound like overkill, it really isn’t. The Border Patrol uses drug sniffing dogs at their checkpoints on pretty much every vehicle that passes through. Since dogs can be manipulated by their handlers into falsely alerting or handlers can just outright lie about an alert, it’s important to have as many angles as possible covered. As such, even with three cameras, I still have way too many blind spots for my comfort. Additionally, before I installed the passenger side camera and the rear camera, I was getting an inordinate number of flat tires. It was always the rear passenger side tire….
I’ve been using Canon Powershot handheld cameras of various models over the years because they can operate while using an external power supply and don’t place artificial limits on the length of a video clip. They’ll run until the memory card overfloweth or until they hit 4GB of memory space. I think the 4GB limit is due to the addressing limits of whatever internal processing hardware the camera uses. At 640×480 resolution & 30 frames per second, this is usually close to an hour’s worth of videotaping. I also keep spare memory cards on hand to switch out if the need arises & as long as the vehicle battery holds out, the cameras will too.
One can also buy inverters that plug into the cigarette lighter but they’re limited to about 200 watts (sufficient for most operations) but they power down in most cases when the engine is turned off. Connecting directly to the battery makes sure your equipment stays powered for as long as the vehicle battery has a charge regardless of whether or not the vehicle is running. Of course the down side to this is if you run your vehicle battery down during an encounter you may find yourself asking for a jump from whatever agency detained you in the first place. Not likely to happen though given that you’d have to be recording for a long time in most cases before this would be an issue – a time frame in which they’re usually either going to just let you go or drag you out….
Think that’s impressive? Here’s a video Terry sent along. Meet Rick Rynearson and his astounding Mitsubishi Eclipse: