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A+E Networks
A+E Networks

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.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays?
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images

On April 21, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will turn 92 years old. To mark the occasion, there are usually a series of gun salutes around London: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London. For the most part, the monarch celebrates her big day privately. But on June 9, 2018, Her Majesty will parade through London as part of an opulent birthday celebration known as Trooping the Colour.

Queen Elizabeth, like many British monarchs before her, has two birthdays: the actual anniversary of the day she was born, and a separate day that is labeled her "official" birthday (usually the second Saturday in June). Why? Because April 21 is usually too cold for a proper parade.

The tradition started in 1748, with King George II, who had the misfortune of being born in chilly November. Rather than have his subjects risk catching colds, he combined his birthday celebration with the Trooping the Colour.

The parade itself had been part of British culture for almost a century by that time. At first it was strictly a military event, at which regiments displayed their flags—or "colours"—so that soldiers could familiarize themselves. But George was known as a formidable general after having led troops at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, so the military celebration seemed a fitting occasion onto which to graft his warm-weather birthday. Edward VII, who also had a November birthday, was the first to standardize the June Trooping the Colour and launched a tradition of a monarchical review of the troops that drew crowds of onlookers.

Even now, the date of the "official" birthday varies year to year. For the first seven years of her reign, Elizabeth II held her official birthday on a Thursday but has since switched over to Saturdays. And while the date is tied to the Trooping the Colour in the UK, Commonwealth nations around the world have their own criteria, which generally involve recognizing it as a public holiday.

Australia started recognizing an official birthday back in 1788, and all the provinces (save one) observe the Queen's Birthday on the second Monday in June, with Western Australia holding its celebrations on the last Monday of September or the first Monday of October.

In Canada, the official birthday has been set to align with the actual birth date of Queen Victoria—May 24, 1819—since 1845, and as such they celebrate so-called Victoria Day on May 24 or the Monday before.

In New Zealand, it's the first Monday in June, and in the Falkland Islands the actual day of the Queen's birth is celebrated publicly.

All in all, just another reason it's great to be Queen.

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What Is the Meaning Behind "420"?
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iStock

Whether or not you’re a marijuana enthusiast, you’re probably aware that today is an unofficial holiday for those who are. April 20—4/20—is a day when pot smokers around the world come together to, well, smoke pot. Others use the day to push for legalization, holding marches and rallies.

But why the code 420? There are a lot of theories as to why that particular number was chosen, but most of them are wrong. You may have heard that 420 is police code for possession, or maybe it’s the penal code for marijuana use. Both are false. There is a California Senate Bill 420 that refers to the use of medical marijuana, but the bill was named for the code, not the other way around.

As far as anyone can tell, the phrase started with a bunch of high school students. Back in 1971, a group of kids at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California, got in the habit of meeting at 4:20 to smoke after school. When they’d see each other in the hallways during the day, their shorthand was “420 Louis,” meaning, “Let’s meet at the Louis Pasteur statue at 4:20 to smoke.”

Somehow, the phrase caught on—and when the Grateful Dead eventually picked it up, "420" spread through the greater community like wildfire. What began as a silly code passed between classes is now a worldwide event for smokers and legalization activists everywhere—not a bad accomplishment for a bunch of high school stoners.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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