Steven Greenhut on California Bill That Would Clarify Legality of Recording Cops


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When he was a teen-age amateur photographer, writes Steven Greenhut, he snapped a picture of a large group of Philadelphia police officers loitering in a rail terminal. Within moments, an officer came over and wanted him to open the back of the camera to expose the film. Decades later, film is obsolete—but the fundamental issue raised that day is not. Now a bill introduced in California by Sen. Ricardo Lara would clarify that taking a photo of an officer in a public place is not "in and of itself a violation of" laws against obstruction, often used by cops to shut down photography.