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Friday, August 15, 2014

It's Perfectly Legal To Film The Cops

It's Perfectly Legal To Film The Cops

FERGUSON
Snapping photos of police in Ferguson, Missouri, may have gotten Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly arrested Wednesday night while he was covering protests prompted by the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was shot to death by a police officer.
Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowrey were detained and assaulted after attempting to film a swarm of police officers inside a McDonald’s. An officer slammed Reilly's head into a glass window, and Lowery was shoved into a soda fountain while wearing press credentials around his neck. Both were later released without being charged with breaking any laws.
“They essentially acted as a military force,” said Reilly, who was in the restaurant to charge his phone and computer. “It was incredible.”
In recent years, there have been countless cases of police officers ordering people to turn off their cameras, confiscating phones, and, like Reilly, arresting those who attempt to capture footage of them. Despite a common misconception, it’s actually perfectly legal to film police officers on the job.
“There are First Amendment protections for people photographing and recording in public,” Mickey Osterreicher, an attorney with the National Press Photographers Association, told The Huffington Post. According to Osterreicher, as long as you don’t get in their way, it’s perfectly legal to take photos and videos of police officers everywhere in the United States.
Help us spread the truth by sharing the image below:
video police
This misconception is pervasive enough that the New York City Police Department circulated a memo last week reminding officers.
“Members of the public are legally allowed to record police interactions,” the memo states, according to the Daily News. “Intentional interference such as blocking or obstructing cameras or ordering the person to cease constitutes censorship and also violates the First Amendment.”
The NYPD’s reminder comes as police activity is in the national spotlight. Just two days after Michael Brown’s death, cops in Los Angeles shot to death an unarmed black man who allegedly struggled with mental illness. And three weeks ago, a New York City police officer put Eric Garner in an illegal chokehold that left him dead after gasping “I can’t breathe!” A bystander caught the entire thing on video.
Those deaths, along with the arrests of Reilly and Lowrey, have raised questions about what, if anything, individuals can do to hold the police accountable for their actions. But one unquestionable right people have is to capture officers on film.
“There’s no law anywhere in the United States that prohibits people from recording the police on the street, in a park, or any other place where the public is generally allowed,” Osterreicher said.
A number of states do bar people from recording private conversations without consent. But as long as the recording is made "openly and not surreptitiously," said Osterreicher, it's fair game. According to Osterreicher, "assuming the position of holding up a camera or phone at arm’s length while looking at the viewing screen should be enough to put someone on notice that they are being photographed or recorded."
Several high profile court cases have taken up the issue, and in each case, the judge has either struck down the law or ruled that the police can't reasonably expect privacy while out in public. In March, for example, the Illinois Supreme Court declared the state's eavesdropping law unconstitutional, saying the law criminalized the recording of conversations that "that cannot be deemed private."
So why do so many police officers still act like filming them is a crime?
“Probably because they haven’t been trained otherwise,” said Osterreicher. “I think that there are many officers that believe that the minute they tell somebody to do or not do something, that that’s an order. But police can only order somebody to do or not do something based on the law, and there is no law that says you can not record or photograph out in public.”
Graphic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to include information about state-level eavesdropping laws.

Video of Ferguson police gassing news crew and dismantling their equipment

13 comments :

Anonymous said...

It's also perfectly legal to thank a cop for putting his or her life on the line to protect you.

Anonymous said...

I watched his video and thought he did not follow directions but used a stall tactic to gain his 15 minutes of fame. there is angry protest coming down the street, a uniformed officer tells you to evacuate, you don't challenge him you leave. if he was injured by the mob he would be complaining that the police didn't protect him.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of sheep! Crime is down drastically in the last 30 years yet we arm our police like the military (after the crime level already dropped) and have people being melodramatic saying they put their lives on the line. Well so do a hell of a lot of other people. It doesn't give them the right to treat people like crap. It doesn't give them the right to give unlawful orders. Jack-boot thugs! When is the last time you got pulled over by a State Cop in PA and had a good feeling? Even for a simple speeding violation they want to act like you are a career criminal.

Anonymous said...

Poster 1:18, what planet are you living on? It's certainly not this one.

Crime is not down its on the raise!

People seem to think they have free reign over whatever they want. People are stealing anything they can get their hands on, personal property and even a person's body. Violence against women is on the rise also.

Only the people that are doing something illegal have a problem with the police. Its an unfortunate event but there was a time and place where a police officer told you to do something and you did it without hesitation.

Police Officers have families, they don't want to die either. If someone is coming at you and not backing down when directed to, you will do whatever possible to protect yourself.

Had this been an average Joe with a concealed weapons permit that felt his life was in danger, this conversation would not be happening.

Stop treating the police like they don't mean anything and start respecting their authority.

Anonymous said...

police should have to wear cameras on the front of them. has worked in other areas to drastically reduce misconduct

Anonymous said...

Yes its ok to film an take pics but keep in mind in PA you cant record there voice with out there ok its called wiretapping an its illegal in PA also just becouse you can dont give you a right to try an under mind an officer who is just doing there job.

Anonymous said...

Dress someone for combat and that's what you're going to get.

Give them tanks and assault rifles and you'll get an army and not a police force.

The police are to protect the citizens, the military is to fight the enemies of the state.

Blur that line and you'll find the the citizens become the enemies of the state.

10:16 - Putting their life on the line is part of a police man's job. They weren't drafted, they chose that profession.

If they neglect all other responsibilities to the citizenry and society, ignore restraint and succumb to abject behavior... whether it's born out of fear for their own lives or a want for combat and not policing, it doesn't matter. They have no business being police officers and should be held accountable for their actions.

No one is concerned about litany of good cops here. (For which we are most certainly thankful). This is a discussion about the legions of rotten ones that are also around, and how to protect yourself from them and hold them accountable.

I've run across some dead rotten cops in my time and I'm a middle class white guy. I can't imagine what your average black male must have to tolerate, and the fear some black communities must have of their police forces.

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion, if the African American people are so afraid of the white cops then lets just put African American cops where the African American's live.. Then when one of there own shoots an "unarmed" African American there's nothing to complain about. The only reason and I mean the only reason this is on National News is the race card. Not one of you people making negative comments were there and actually know anything except what you have heard. If I were a white officer I certainly would not want to work anywhere near any minority groups, because you already know what's going to happen if you have to make an arrest. Well enough said, lets tune in tonight and see what else the law abiding citizens of Ferguson have been up to.

Anonymous said...

Cops have no laws they do as they please, on or off duty. Laws are for civilians

Anonymous said...

2;09 You nedd to read the pa wiretap law. There must be an expectation of privacy to be founnd guilty of the wire tap law. in public there is no expectation of privacy.

Anonymous said...

@2:00. It is not that hard to look up crime stats. NationallycCrime rates started to decrease around 1994 and have almost been cut in half. North Central PA is on the few areas that as actually seen an increase in crime. The murder rate in NYC has falling 80% and for the past 3 years the murder rate in Potter County has been higher than NYC. Maybe you should look what this area is doing wrong.

Anonymous said...

@10:00 please do record a cops voice an use it aginst him in a PA court of law an make sure to post the out come on here.

Anonymous said...

http://www.aclupa.org/issues/policepractices/your-right-record-and-observe-police/taking-photos-video-and-audio/