One of the safety tips we state repeatedly is to have a video camera recording the entire time a team is present on the sidewalk. This is increasingly important as opposition grows and pro-abortion protestors gather. It’s vital to be strategic with video camera use, and knowing that using video can help or hinder a situation. This article will help you evaluate how to use a camera to full advantage when serving on an abortion center sidewalk.
We often see people wearing body cams, similar to those of police officers; however, we do not recommend sidewalk counselors do so. If a woman coming to abort sees a body cam on you, she is less likely to approach. Remember some people are coming from out of state purposely so no one will identify them. The last thing they want is to be caught on video! Secondly, a body cam has a narrow view. It can only see what is happening right in front of you. If someone approaches from behind with some evil purpose, it will not be taped.
We train our teams to park cars strategically on the street where they are ministering. They place the cameras atop the car where it is unlikely any woman driving or walking in will notice it. The cameras we use have wide angle lenses so they capture the most likely area of interaction between us and women, as well as pro-abortion people.
Thus, two major rules for camera placement:
- Not on your body
- Captures most likely place of interaction, especially adverse ones
Your own phone camera
Sometimes teams are directly threatened or even direct aggression occurs. In those cases team members should not only rely on the surveillance camera, but also on personal cellphones. Be always prepared to pull out your cell phone and be video recording those moments.
There are pros and cons to recording with your phone. Oftentimes, it DOES reduce the aggressive behavior if people know they are being recorded. Ideally, if there has been a direct threat one team member is recording while another is calling the police. This is often sufficient to squelch the threat.
Sometimes, however, if someone sees you recording, it can increase anger. We have witnessed people grab the phone from team members, or become angry enough to even try to hit them. This usually happens with the filming of the abortion minded-woman. If at all possible, avoid filming the moms coming in to abort.
General dos and don’ts with cameras
- Don’t photograph the clients of the abortion clinic.
- Don’t spend a lot of time photographing proaborts. They WANT the attention.
- Always have phone on you and be ready to videotape.
- If there is direct aggression threatened or actual even from client, videotape and have team member call police.
- Remember video may be the evidence needed to either arrest or rebuke officially and legally.
- Be careful with camera placement. If on public property like a telephone pole or tree, it is less protected from sabotage than on your car.
- Avoid body cams.
- If possible, have it close enough to include sound so any verbal threats are recorded.
- Ensure it is not likely moms will see it and shut down conversation.
- In active violence, choose to call police FIRST before videotaping if choice must be made.
- Best to work out ahead of time who will call police, and who will videotape