Officer Wolford responded to a business dispute whereby a man was claiming a homeowner did not have the right to put his hands on him. The homeowner was accused of pushing the man out of his home. Wolford responded to the call for police intervention and began to explain to the man that the homeowner was within his rights to remove the man from his premises.
Neither the man who was complaining, nor the other gentleman who was recording were at all angry or disrupting the peace, but the presence of the camera was enough to set Wolford off.
“Are you recording me? That’s really nice,” Wolford said
“I’m in my right to do that – for my company,” continued the man who was filming. At that time, Wolford lost his composure, one could say, and grabbed for the recording device. “Let me see that real quick,” he said. There appeared to be some sort of struggle, and the man recording ran away.
The unnamed man who was recording exclaimed, “he’s trying to push me, hit me!” Wolford said a few inaudible things, got into his police cruiser and left the scene. But the attempted camera confiscation was not the end of the incident.
Anne Arundel County police later issued a press release which reads in part:
…members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record officers while they are conducting official business in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity.
Internal Affairs is now conducting its own investigation into the camera grabbing officer. Meanwhile, Officer Wolford has been suspended, probably with pay, and will likely resume his official police duties once the matter has been resolved. In other words, the officer has been given a free vacation at taxpayer expense.