Connecticut Senate Passes Bill Allowing Citizens to Record Cops So Long As the Cops Are OK With It

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The Connecticut Senate passed a bill last week that allows citizens to record police officers, so long as the police officers in question don't object to being recorded.

Bill 245, which passed 24-11 last Thursday in Connecticut's Democrat-controlled senate, has two distinct parts: Section 1(b) lays out protections and recourse for citizens who want to record police; Section 1(c) gives police several excuses to interfere with citizen photographers without penalty. 

Section 1(b) reads:

"A peace officer who interferes with any person taking a photographic or digital still or video image of such peace officer or another peace officer acting in the performance of such peace officer's duties shall, subject to sections 5-141d, 7-465 and 29-8a of the general statutes, be liable to such person in an  action  at  law,  suit  in  equity  or other proper proceeding for redress."

Section 1(c) reads:

"A peace officer shall not be liable under subsection (b) of this section if the peace officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the peace officer was interfering with the taking of such image in order to (1) lawfully enforce a criminal law of this state or a municipal ordinance, (2) protect the public safety, (3) preserve the integrity of a crime scene or criminal investigation, (4) safeguard the privacy interests of any person, including a victim of a crime, or (5) lawfully enforce court rules and policies of the Judicial Branch with respect to taking a photograph, videotaping or otherwise recording an image in facilities of the Judicial Branch."

While Republicans who voted against the bill said it would expose Connecticut cops to frivolous lawsuits, this legislation couldn't be more protective of police if it was written by the cops themselves. 

The standard for interference is based on "reasonable grounds to believe" that filming would jeopardize public safety, violate privacy, or conflict with other laws. What are reasonable grounds? The bill doesn't say. How could recording a police officer beating the snot out of some poor perp jeopardize "public safety"? The bill doesn't say. When it comes to protecting privacy, who counts among "any person"? The bill doesn't say. 

Because the bill doesn't exclude police, it's conceivable that a cop could stop a recording to protect his or her own privacy. Because the bill doesn't distinguish between preemptively protecting a person's privacy versus doing so at a person's request, it's conceivable an officer could stop a citizen from recording an arrest on the grounds that the recording would violate a suspect's privacy. (For more information on how police, prosecutors, and even judges abuse privacy to keep from having their public shenanigans recorded for posterity, see Radley Balko's 2011 Reason story The War on Cameras.)

NEXT: Instapundit Glenn Reynolds: Your Due Process Right to Record the Cops!

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  1. How could recording a police officer beating the snot out of some poor perp jeopardize “public safety”?

    Well, I’m sure the person recording the cop is a member of the public. I’m also pretty sure that a rage-filled cop would not take kindly to being filmed administering the law a good beating. Therefore, the Connecticut Senate is just trying to warn anyone that might be thinking of filming the police in action.

  2. The state of civil liberties in this country would be much different if there were actual negative consequences to even the lowest agent of the state who violates Constitutional rights.

    1. Don’t start with that constitution shit again…

  3. Audio recording rules should be the same as photography rules: No consent required for anything visible or audible in public.

  4. so recording a cop is only a problem if the cop says it’s a problem. Yeah, that solves everything.

  5. How could recording a police officer beating the snot out of some poor perp jeopardize “public safety”?

    Cop = public official

    Video of beating citizen/perp = threat to job safety

    A+B= threat to public safety

    Also, said cop may simply find it distracting. Or he may be shy. (camera makes him look fat?). Solution = TASE EVERYONE

  6. A better alternative is: Citizens are allowed to record *anything*. However, they are *required* to submit all recordings, along with a nominal processing fee, to the State for validation. Win-win-win: The citizens get their validated recording, if any; the State gets additional revenue; and JOBS!

  7. this legislation couldn’t be more protective of police if it was written by the cops themselves

    if?

    also, your own articles are filled with the invalid, 50character apostraphes. Fix, maybe? kkthxbai.

  8. Basically this bill made things much worse than they already were. Since I assume there was no law against videotaping police before, this law simply gives them the legal language they need to arrest anyone who films them. This is basically like those anti eavesdropping laws in MA and IL that were ostensibly written to protect people from abuse by cops. They accomplish exactly the opposite of what they set out to do.

    1. They accomplish exactly the opposite of what they set out to do.

      Now you’re gettin it!

  9. The Connecticut Senate passed a bill last week that allows citizens to question their elected officials, so long as the officials in question don’t object to being questioned.

  10. lol, thats pretty funny, gotta love those bought and paid for politicians.

    http://www.Planet-Anon.tk

  11. How could recording a police officer beating the snot out of some poor perp jeopardize “public safety”?

    Well, I’m sure the person recording the cop is a member of the public. I’m also pretty sure that a rage-filled cop would not take kindly to being filmed administering the law a good beating. Therefore, the Connecticut Senate is just trying to warn anyone that might be thinking of filming the police in action.

    Regard,
    harga besi siku per batang

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