Police may not Harass Individuals Recording Them
S.647 would clarify that it is indeed legal for a private citizen to film the police in public. Citizens already have the right to record in public places. S.647 would only further clarify that it is illegal for a police officer to do any of the following to an individual attempting to record a police officer in the performance of their official duties:
- intentionally hinder, prevent, or obstruct the person from taking a photograph or making a recording
- detain, arrest, threaten, intimidate, or otherwise harass the person
- search or seize the photograph, recording, or device used to take the photograph or make the recording without the person’s permission or a warrant
- damage or destroy the photograph, recording, or device used to take the photograph or make the recording
Police officers would be liable to civil actions if they violate this law.
Private recording of interactions between law enforcement and civilians helps to promote accountability and shine a light on abuses that may otherwise have been swept under the rug. Recent history has provided numerous examples of the power of private recordings of law enforcement. Recordings can also help police officers by disproving frivolous complaints of police abuse
Any measure that promotes accountability among public employees is a good thing. This is especially true for public employees who are permitted to use force, up to and including deadly force, against members of the public.