Listen: Easter and Surveillance
Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart once said “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do…and what is right to do;” a perfect segue for a discussion on surveillance in church. When I say church, I’m referring to not only regular church services but other meetings typically conducted inside a church, such as weddings and funerals.
Most church services are open to the public, therefore, there’s generally no expectation of privacy. Having said that, there are some things that, while they may be legal…may not necessarily be ethical. It can be a fine line. Certainly discretion should be used. Weddings, for example, are very happy occasions involving both, professional photographers and guests, taking pictures and video to document the event. There is certainly little expectation of privacy here. Shooting covert video of someone attending a wedding would probably be okay. Funerals, on the other hand, tend to be somber and introspective events that involve people grieving. While it may be technically legal to shoot covert video at a funeral, I’m not sure if it’s ethical. Of course, only you can make that decision.
More than likely you’ll end up following your subject to a regular church service. I would not be above attending the service and making notes (without actually shooting covert video). But I understand that some folks are going to disagree with me on this and that’s fine. I think it’s important to have these kinds of discussions. But to videotape your subject during a sacred or solemn religious event, such as a baptism or confirmation, may be viewed as being in poor taste later on. If the case goes to trial and the judge or jury discover you’ve gathered videotape covertly during a funeral or some other similar type of religious service it may cast you in a bad light. I keep going back to Justice Stewart’s remark “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do…and what is right to do.”
You’ll have to make the call.
Until next time
this is Scott Fulmer, the Utah Gumshoe, reminding you the game…is afoot!
About The Utah Gumshoe Podcast
The Utah Gumshoe Podcast follows the real-life exploits, riveting case stories, investigative tips and insightful advice of Scott Fulmer, The Utah Gumshoe. Scott is a 20 year veteran Utah private investigator, surveillance expert and President/CEO of intellUTAH, a private investigation firm based in Salt Lake City.
He has written numerous articles on investigative and surveillance techniques that have appeared in PInow.com and other industry journals. He is a decorated combat veteran of the Persian Gulf War where he served with the famous 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels). Whether you're a novice or an experienced investigator this is the podcast for you.
Articles from Scott Fulmer