06/30/12 187 W - + 7 - 3 The Right to Record the Actions of Police

Here's some slightly older news, about a recent statement from the Department of Justice that (a.) citizens have a First Amendment right to videotape the actions of police officers in public places and (b.) seizure or destruction of such recordings is a constitutional violation. Here's a New York Times editorial that includes a link to the statement, made in a letter from the DOJ to the Baltimore Police Department. Use Google to find other stories on this subject.

From here, we could take a discussion in a couple of different directions. What are best practices when confronted while recording police actions in public? (Depends, based on personal preference for short- and long-term outcomes.) What are best ways to avoid such confrontations? (Civil conduct always goes a long way.) What about taping or photographing anyone or anything in public places? (Totally legal.)

We'll end with a big fat disclaimer. Mr. Blogger isn't anything remotely resembling a legal scholar. He probably couldn't even pass as a substitute teacher in a media studies class. The kids would probably love his shirts, though.

If public officials are performing their job correctly, they should not be concerned about the videotaping. Don’t forget, we work for the “videotapers.” If concern of what may be seen is an issue (privacy, etc.), simply extend the perimeter. Video or not, we do have the legal ability to secure the scene due to safety. Problem fixed. Oh, and BE NICE and explanatory to the public – again, make sure “their” video shows you doing your job the right way!
A.C. Rich - 07/01/12 - 09:54

It’s pretty hard to beat the combination of transparency and civility. Or, if you prefer, transparency and professionalism. If greater awareness of a public employee’s job performance is a problem, then that’s a bigger problem than that problem! Make sense, or do you a have problem with the problem of the problem?
Legeros - 07/02/12 - 08:12

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