How Can Live PD Show Suspects' Faces Without Consent?

A+E Networks
A+E Networks

Viewers of the hit A&E reality series Live PD, which airs in two-hour blocks on Friday and Saturday nights, have come to expect at least two recurring elements as camera crews follow around six police departments from around the country. The first is that officers will be searching for marijuana in vehicles. (And will usually find it.) The second is that civilians idling in cars or on front porches will sometimes say they are not offering their consent to be filmed. Can the show really “out” suspects by broadcasting their faces on live television without permission?

To make sense of this legal quagmire, it helps to know that Live PD is not exactly live. While the program’s control center cuts between the various participating police departments in real time, it’s not airing the same way: Producers require a delay, in the event a gruesome crime occurs or an undercover officer is accidentally filmed, among other reasons. The show’s producers won’t say exactly how long the delay is, though in 2017, executive producer David Doss told NBC that it’s typically several minutes. (A representative for A&E did not follow up with our request for comment.)

Is that long enough to acquire written consent from involved parties to broadcast their image to millions of viewers? In some cases, yes.

Tulsa, Oklahoma resident Randy Wallace was featured on the show in February 2017 and later criticized the police department for implying he was a gang member. In press interviews, Wallace admitted he signed a waiver when a production team member presented it to him. (The Tulsa PD later declined to renew its agreement to be involved with the show.) The production, Wallace said, wanted permission to use his image and likeness.

A person has his face blurred during A&E's 'Live PD'
A&E Networks

But not everyone is presented with forms to sign. In Walton County, Florida, a man who was detained on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle and handcuffed on the show said he was never offered the option of signing any forms and was angry he had been depicted as a criminal. (The man owned the car and he was not arrested.)

Legally, the show was probably within its legal rights on both occasions, thanks to the machinations of the right to privacy laws: Namely, if you’re out in public, you don’t have those rights.

“When you’re outside in a public place, you have no expectation of privacy,” Mark Rosenberg, an attorney specializing in intellectual property law, tells Mental Floss. “You can video people and use them on television.”

Of course, there are limitations. Cameras for Live PD typically idle outside private residences unless they’re invited in. Footage of people in doorways is typically captured from where someone passing by would see them from the street.

People asked to sign waivers may have been approached by producers because they’d like to use the footage for publicity purposes—a television commercial, for example, or some other advertisement for the show. “If they’re using someone’s face for advertising, that gets outside whatever newsworthy element may be involved,” Rosenberg says.

Should you ever find yourself detained by police with a full camera crew in tow, don’t expect you need to give them your permission—or withdraw your consent—to be filmed.

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How Did 6 Feet Become the Standard Grave Depth?

iStock
iStock

It all started with the plague: The origins of “six feet under” come from a 1665 outbreak in England. As the disease swept the country, the mayor of London literally laid down the law about how to deal with the bodies to avoid further infections. Among his specifications—made in “Orders Conceived and Published by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, Concerning the Infection of the Plague”—was that “all the graves shall be at least six feet deep.”

The law eventually fell out of favor both in England and its colonies. Modern American burial laws vary from state to state, though many states simply require a minimum of 18 inches of soil on top of the casket or burial vault (or two feet of soil if the body is not enclosed in anything). Given an 18-inch dirt buffer and the height of the average casket (which appears to be approximately 30 inches), a grave as shallow as four feet would be fine.

A typical modern burial involves a body pumped full of chemical preservatives sealed inside a sturdy metal casket, which is itself sealed inside a steel or cement burial vault. It’s less of a hospitable environment for microbes than the grave used to be. For untypical burials, though—where the body isn’t embalmed, a vault isn’t used, or the casket is wood instead of metal or is foregone entirely—even these less strict burial standards provide a measure of safety and comfort. Without any protection, and subjected to a few years of soil erosion, the bones of the dearly departed could inconveniently and unexpectedly surface or get too close to the living, scaring people and acting as disease vectors. The minimum depth helps keep the dead down where they belong.

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This article originally appeared in 2012.

What's the Difference Between Apple Juice and Apple Cider?

iStock/Alter_photo
iStock/Alter_photo

In a time before pumpkin spice went overboard with its marketing, people associated fall with fresh apples. Crisp and fresh, they practically beg to be crushed and pulped into liquid. But what’s the difference between apple juice and apple cider?

According to the state of Massachusetts, home to a variety of apple-picking destinations, both apple juice and apple cider are fruit beverages. But apple cider is raw, unfiltered juice—the pulp and sediment are intact. To make cider, the apples are ground into an applesauce-like consistency, then wrapped in cloth. A machine squeezes the layers and strains out the juice into cold tanks. That’s the cider that ends up on store shelves.

Apple juice, on the other hand, takes things a step further—removing solids and pasteurizing the liquid to lengthen its shelf life. It’s typically sweeter, possibly with added sugar, and may lack the stronger flavor of its relatively unprocessed counterpart. It’s also often lighter in color, since the remaining sediment of cider can give it a cloudy appearance.

But that’s just the Massachusetts standard. Each state allows for a slight variation in what companies are allowed to call apple cider versus apple juice. The cider may be pasteurized, or the cider and juice may actually be more or less identical. One company, Martinelli’s, states in its company FAQ that their two drinks are the same in every way except the label: "Both are 100 percent pure juice from U.S. grown fresh apples. We continue to offer the cider label since some consumers simply prefer the traditional name for apple juice."

The US Apple Association, a nonprofit trade organization that represents growers nationwide, indicates that apple juice can be made from concentrate, which is why you might see water as the first ingredient on the label. Generally, cider is the hard stuff: Crushed apples with minimal processing. Because it can ferment, it's usually found refrigerated. Apple juice can often be found elsewhere in stores, where it can remain stable.

Which you should buy comes down to personal preference. Typically, though, recipes calling for apple cider should use apple cider. Processed juice may be too sweet an ingredient. And you can always try making a pumpkin spice hot apple cider, although we may stop talking to you if you do.

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