Police

A New Florida Bill Could Criminalize Filming Cops on the Job

"If the police don't want to be filmed or observed, they should get out of the public service field."

|

A new bill in the Florida House of Representatives would make it illegal to approach a cop within 30 feet if the officer warns the person not to do so, effectively criminalizing the filming of law enforcement at any close proximity.

The legislation, filed by Rep. Alex Rizo (R–Hialeah), would make it unlawful to "interrupt, disrupt, hinder, impede, or interfere" with a police officer within that radius. It would also criminalize "indirect[] harass[ment]." Whether or not someone crosses that line would be up to the discretion of the officer, and would be punished by a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

It is beyond debate that the public has a constitutional right to film police on the job. "There is a long line of First Amendment case law from the high court that supports the right to record the police," notes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for digital rights. "Federal appellate courts in the FirstThird, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits have directly upheld this right."

One such ruling: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that Denver cops violated a man's First Amendment rights in 2014 when they surrounded him, confiscated his tablet without a warrant, and attempted to delete footage he took of the group beating a man during an arrest. (In a maddening turn, the officers still received qualified immunity and thus couldn't be sued over the incident, because the exact way the situation played out had not been carved into a previous court ruling.)

"It's hard to see such a blanket ban as anything but a targeted assault on First Amendment activity," says Ari Cohn, a First Amendment lawyer who works at TechFreedom, a think tank dedicated to technology issues. "Cops have long tried claiming that the act of filming them in itself obstructs their ability to do their job…and now that this argument failed, they are rather transparently trying to create a safe space from observation by the people they are sworn to serve."

House Bill 11 seeks to circumvent the Constitution, giving Florida officers a weapon to shut down public documentation under the guise of "harassment" that, as stated in the bill, does not have to be "direct." It remains unclear what would qualify as indirect harassment, though filming seems like a good candidate.

Rod Skirvin, president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, a law enforcement union, told the local ABC affiliate that "there is [no] problem with recording the police." There is a caveat in his view: "I don't think you should get in their face to do it."

Yet there is a distinction between a 30-foot distance and actually getting in an officer's face. That difference could easily determine whether or not someone is able to get any video of the cop whatsoever—a First Amendment-protected activity. Should a bystander choose to physically interact with a cop, the state can take comfort in the fact that assault is already illegal.

"A blanket 30 foot no-approach zone is completely unmoored from any government interest in ensuring that citizens don't obstruct police operations—that would prevent someone from standing across a typical street from a police officer!" adds Cohn. "That is a profound threat to the First Amendment. If the police don't want to be filmed or observed, they should get out of the public service field."

Police departments are notoriously opaque when it comes to sharing details on incidents that may or may not be laden with misconduct. None is more notorious than the Minneapolis Police Department's statement on the death of George Floyd, which acquitted then-Officer Derek Chauvin of any wrongdoing and cast it as a "medical incident." Bystander filming on the scene told a different story, and Chauvin has since been convicted of Floyd's murder.

NEXT: Judges Say Web Design Is 'Pure Speech' and That the State Can Compel It Anyway

Police Police Abuse Criminal Justice First Amendment Florida Qualified Immunity

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

Please to post comments

84 responses to “A New Florida Bill Could Criminalize Filming Cops on the Job

  1. Cops now wearing tape measures on their belts.

    1. No; those are just for bragging rights down at the station.

    2. Hardly. They’ll just say anyone they arrested was under 30 feet away and since they will have turned off their body cams and deleted any footage from the person’s device the prosecutors and judges will blindly believe them.

  2. Expect more of this now that neo marxists are in control, and left liberaltarians cheering them on.

    1. Dude. Florida is an R state. This is the Rs doing this.

      1. Don’t kid yourself. This is the unions doing this. Politicians of every ilk just want to suck some cop union dick.

        1. Right. So I suppose Rep. Alex Rizo (R–Hialeah) is not a “legitimate Republican”.

          1. They are one of those commie progtard R’s.

            1. Funny how the Usual Suspects around here never make such allowances for Team Blue.

              With Team Blue, they are all despicable totalitarian socialist assholes. That applies equally well to Joe Manchin as it does to AOC and Bernie Sanders.

              But with Team Red, their occasional acts of impiety should be viewed with nuance and grace. Some are good, some are bad. And even those who are bad, well, they behaved in understandable ways. We ought to forgive them and move on and continue to shill for Team Red.

              It’s kinda sick and disgusting to see so many people around here of all places to be such pathetic cheerleaders for Team Red.

            2. Everyone I don’t like is a communist, an emotional child’s guide to discussing government.

            3. Probably. There is no shortage of shitty republicans.

      2. Totalitarianism is the one thing the Left and the Right seem to agree on. It’s just too bad for the rest of us.

  3. Yes we should definitely leave it up to the cops to decide when somebody crosses the line. What could go wrong?

  4. 30 foot social distancing.

  5. I actually support this law in principle because of the highly selective and edited nature of film.

    People incorrectly assume that something is truthful or accurate just because we saw it on tape. Film is inherently biased as it comes from a single perspective of the camera. It starts when the recorder starts and ends where they see fit. It captures and emphasizes some factual elements while diminishing others. The same footage that can exonerate one person will convict another based solely on the packaging.

    In all likelihood, Chauvin wouldn’t be in prison if not for out of context footage that caused mass riots, multiple murders, billions in property damage, and in my opinion, the wrongful conviction of an officer.

    Truth doesn’t care about facts. Not many people have philosophized about the difference between the two, but it is clear in America today that pieces of information regarding as factual are often untrue. Facthood is a status, not a measure of correctness. If something is believed to be true and enshrined as such, it becomes a fact. Most of recorded human history has been a struggle between facts and truth. Gravity was truth, but we didn’t accept it for a long time. Scientific racism was fact, but there wasn’t any shred of truth to it. In terms of truthiness, more often than not, we don’t know the truth. The degradation and corruption of science, turned into a religion to maintain the current world order, is the antithesis of truth. The old scientific method challenged widely believed facts and commanded us to dig deeper to understand the unknown.

    There is a major cultural shift taking place in this regard. Educated people of the past knew and appreciated how much they didn’t know. The thirst to learn more lead to most of the advancements in thought that we benefit from today. Today, elitists think they know everything. These people do not like asking questions and will lead us into a new Dark Age of ignorance.

    1. Before filming became common no one believed people when they said they were beat with no reason, or that the evidence was planted, or that their confession was falsified. Now with cameras we have a realization that police have been abusive for decades. Also cameras will protect honest cops from false accusations. Cameras protect all in this circumstance.

      1. People have always believed that police have the ability to be corrupt. They’re humans and no industry has ever been insulated from evil.

        The reason I espoused about semiotics is to highlight the dangers of trusting images blindly. I don’t think it’s safe to assume that cameras will protect honest cops, especially since I see Chauvin’s trial as the wrongful conviction of an innocent officer.

        The power of images, especially when amplified by the media, creates an atmosphere where justice can’t breathe. Most of the FotM race bait cases disappeared because the facts didn’t support the BLM narrative, but the trinity of insidious cases were Travyon Martin, Michael Brown and George Floyd. In each case, images and video were manipulated to disseminate lies. MSNPC lightened Zimmerman’s skin to make him appear whiter to goad race baiters into rioting. Every news organization shared false testimony, which should have been prosecuted as perjury, stating that Michael Brown was executed in the back and shot 9 times, not that he attacked Officer Darren Wilson in his cruiser, struggled for his gun, fired multiple shots INSIDE THE CAR, and continued fighting once he dragged him out. The 9 minute Floyd video omitted the most important parts of his death where we see a clearly distressed man, mid overdose, swallow a large quantity of Fentanyl and enter cardiac arrest long before he was ever laid prone.

        Images are more powerful than you realize. Cameras don’t protect anyone. TRUTH protects everyone. Police recordings have provided a lot of information and very little truth. When it comes to truth, white noise is just as bad as silence.

        1. That’s not true Google, Facebook, the DoJ, and the fbi, and nih are absolutly incorruptible everything they do and say is pure of hart and free from any ulterior motive

        2. This is strange commentary indeed on a libertarian site because the alternative to the evidence you don’t want is to simply trust authority. Obviously images don’t tell the whole story, but you assert a good deal of certainty about things not seen at all:

          I don’t think it’s safe to assume that cameras will protect honest cops, especially since I see Chauvin’s trial as the wrongful conviction of an innocent officer.

          If you think the video led to the wrong outcome, what basis do you have to determine he was innocent? You have to reach that conclusion with even less evidence. This is cut-rate use of semiotic tools to justify a pre-defined conclusion and I cannot help but think these tools would not reach the same conclusion for you if they involved a Gadsden-flag toting person you sympathize with.

          1. The problem is we have claimed that video solves all and have not acknowledged how it, too, can be manipulated.

            I think video evidence should continue, I do think recorders should maintain their distance, I may disagree with 30 feet if I knew how far that was. I might agree to 15-20 feet so observers are not actually interfering (as some were doing in the Floyd arrest).

            I also think that when people say they would accept Jesus’ resurrection if there was video proof are lying. Video can be and has been and will be manipulated and parsed and edited to confirm whatever bias was previously held. They will not be used to figure out the truth. Even in some of the most obvious cases will there be room for controversy and debate.

            Letting go of them being the panacea of proof and not simply one piece of evidence needs to be acknowledged by the public at large.

          2. I would actually prefer it if the target of police were allowed to record or have an incidental (passenger, company) do the recording.

            This largely is to prevent onlookers from becoming seen as potential threats by cops engaged in high risk investigation. 30 feet is too far for an average person to be an armed threat. Closer they are, the more potential they have for assaulting the officer while his attention should be on the person at hand.

            It is possible that onlookers that get to close to a scene complicate the security of the investigating scenario – more burden to prevent a shooting and to minimize stray bullets that would hit a crowd. More likely to result in extreme measures to secure the target to minimize harm to others. More opportunity to be distracted from the immediate situation that might result in 5 minutes with a knee on a dead person…

            There’s good reasons for onlookers to maintain distance.

            This problem does not have a clear solution. It is mixed and nuanced. And only cop haters and authoritarians would think it is an absolute clear-cut thing.

            That doesn’t mean passing such a law or not is the result of authoritarians or cop haters. We do not know what debate was engaged in to inform the law. Only that they decided in favor of this solution as the best one.

        3. Yes, some people have been suspicious of authority, mindful that authorities are only human, as T. Jefferson told Hamilton, “and where are we to get angels to protect us?” Your observation that “no industry has been free from evil” explains how irrational, irresponsible, and immature it is to give away our right to self defense by creating an elite with a monopoly on violence. That puts our life in another’s hands, who may be evil, but now has unlimited power of the people concentrated in one “industry”. Doesn’t power corrupt, and the greater the power, the greater the corruption?

        4. Holy shit you must be a cop. If not what the fuck is wrong with you shilling for violent cops without even getting any money?

    2. What is film, boomer?

      Unlike the olden days of film, the digital format recorded by modern smartphones lends itself to detection of edits – at least in the native format recorded on the phone. If the native file is available from the phone, any “packaging” would necessarily be after the fact, so the original file would settle any disputes about presentation.

      Whatever definition of truth you’d prefer to use, and whatever relation that definition of truth has to facts, and whatever is our ultimately capacity to have knowledge of either — having less information, and willfully wearing blinders, is unlikely to advance the cause of knowledge.

      1. “having less information, and willfully wearing blinders, is unlikely to advance the cause of knowledge.”

        That’s the assumption that I just criticized. You think you have more information with these videos, but you really don’t.

        I think the part about editing was lost on you. I’m not talking about after the fact. The very act of recording something is editing reality. You’re taking a moment in time and removing it from context. By focusing the lens on something, you are choosing what to display and what to omit. You assume that what you see is truth because it can be seen. There’s a major difference between the truth being shown and actually seeing the truth.

        1. I realize that recording video is necessarily selective. The camera usually has to be pointed in a direction (unless it’s a 360 degree camera), and it’s usually started at a point in time, not recording all of time.

          But it still seems to be additive to the quantity of information, and not necessarily distortive, unless we allow it to be.

          A rational person should be able to consider what a video record is missing, and be cautious to allow only plausible inferences.

          The smartphone video of Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott in the back in 2015, was a wide shot. Some context could be added by also considering the dash cam video. Are these two video sources, taken together, all-inclusive of all of the reality of that day? Of course not. But would subtracting them from the record give us more or better information, or at least limit some distortion of our knowledge about what happened during that incident? Very likely not.

          What is more distortive of reality, in my opinion, is relying solely on after-the-fact officer accounts. In police work, there is going to be some account and record of what happened. Human beings, such as officers and witnesses, also selectively experience reality. And then have to rely on memory, and will hardly ever give the same account of some prior experience event twice.

          If there is going to be some account and record, and all of the potential sources of that account are limited and flawed, then the best hope we have to piece together something like what might have happened, is to have as many sources of information, however flawed any or all of them might be.

          1. Yes. Awildseaking has embraced a strange sort of Newsprak world in which more information is somehow less. If you follow his “logic” we should really just dispense with the notion of an adversarial justice system and should ignore eyewitness testimony because it is notoriously unreliable in favor of trusting what the official narrative is. His is a hermeneutics of selective skepticism, applied only against those who seek to hold power to account. It is an authoritarian application of an anti-authoritarian approach.

            Of course no record or account is perfect, but it is strangely perverse and willfully blind to argue that we will get closer to the truth by ignoring evidence. He should work for a government propaganda ministry because the outcome of what he argues is that propaganda would reign supreme.

      2. He’s doing the bullshit tactic where they suggest that when someone is brutally murdered and it’s filmed there clearly must have been something that happened right before the recording starts that justifies it and exonerates the officer.

        If supporters of the police are worried about incomplete videos being taken out of context there’s a really simple solution. Police officers should ensure their body camera is on at all times so we never have to rely on a bystander’s video and can always have the full story. Yet they just keep turning them off and the bootlickers are too dishonest to acknowledge why this is the case.

    3. I actually support this law in principle because of the highly selective and edited nature of film.

      Not unlike the words that come out of my mouth. Did you want to suppress those too?

    4. How does this law prevent the editing of the film?

    5. So since Absolute Truth is unknowable, let cops get away with literal murder. Brilliant take there, pal.

    6. So… we need to curtail free speech in order to avoid a Dark Age?

      Mmmkay.

  6. I’m not a Leo fluffers, but read an article about these YouTube “influencers” that go around & mess with police calling themselves agitators or the like & now they are making thousands of dollars.

    Catching cops being dirty is one thing, but to purposely fuck with them until they lose it is total bullshit.

    1. Catching cops being dirty is one thing, but to purposely fuck with them until they lose it is total bullshit.

      Cops are trained professionals. They are supposed to handle these situations responsibly and not “lose it”. If they can’t, they shouldn’t be cops.

      1. Not to mention “annoying” government agents has to be legal, or else they can classify reasonable objections to their actions as “annoyance” and toss people in jail. It’s fair to not like it, but it has to be legal in a free society.

        1. Any objection is unreasonable noncompliance, and an excuse for them to escalate force. Their job isn’t to enforce the law. Law enforcement couldn’t give a fuck less about the law. They have the power to use violence on anyone who doesn’t do what they say, and that’s all they care about. Obey.

          1. Bingo. Any law that gives the police discretion to determine (and have the judge accept) whether you are breaking it is unconstitutionally vague.

        2. Yet there are dozens of people in federal custody right now denied bail for “annoying” government agents.
          Chemjeff is on record saying it was just to shoot them for “annoying” government agents.

          I mean, the full power of the intelligence agencies was deployed against political opponents to spy and fabricate evidence against them, with Reason cheering it on and running cover.
          Those same agencies, in conjunction with Big Tech, are now on the hunt for “extremist domestic terrorist white supremacists” to persecute for their political beliefs, with Reason cheering it on and running cover.
          Mobs of violent leftists destroy businesses, burn buildings, and loot with no consequences from local authorities. Government agents shut down businesses and all aspects of life for nothing but political ends. Racial marxism is being pushed by America’s most powerful institutions with facts denied, distorted, or outright fabricated.
          All with Reason cheering it on, running cover and actively participating.

          You’ll have to forgive me for thinking these are greater concerns than local police, even in the state I live, and for not barking like a seal when Reason demands I be outraged about minor police misbehavior.

          Hey, remember when a bunch of people burned a Wendy’s down because some guy passed out in their parking lot then got shot after fighting off two cops, stealing one’s taser, and firing it at them?

          1. Yeah, fake president Biden owes blood debt to everyone in solitary for Jan 6. Calling it (but not BLM terrorism) insurrection is gross dereliction of duty. But then, Trump should have had the brains to send the Army against Antifa not later than July 2020.

          2. Chemjeff is on record saying it was just to shoot them for “annoying” government agents.

            Oh fuck you and this total lie.

            What I said, was that from a LIBERTARIAN PERSPECTIVE, using lethal force in defense of property is justified.

            Do you disagree? Please tell me how you disagree. Because I’d love to hear your PRINCIPLED ARGUMENT against this very basic libertarian tenet.

            Wait, you can’t? You agree with this perspective? In fact, you personally own lots of guns with the explicit purpose of not just defending yourself, but YOUR PROPERTY, for the VERY SAME REASON that I pointed out? And – hey guess what – instead what you and the rest of the Mean Girls have been doing for months and months, is lying and demagoging the shit out of what I said? To make it seem like I support the cops indiscriminately murdering citizens left and right for no reason? Because you are a dishonest dickhead whose mouth is way too big for his own good, who can’t shut up about your own violent fantasies about murdering people you doesn’t like, and likely the reason you still pollute this comment section is because you’ve been banned from virtually everywhere else due to your psychopathic rants (and yet you probably think you were banned for merely “being a conservative”, right?) Am I close? Because I think I’m close.

            If you are so desperate for a war, then go get it started. Heaven knows you have more guns and ammo, than sense. John Brown’s Raid in 1859 arguably got the whole Civil War mentality going. Maybe you can be this century’s John Brown. Be the change that you want to see in this world. In your case, it is death by cop. But if that’s your calling in life, then who am I to stand in your way.

            1. I’m not lying, and everyone can see it.
              Your fatass isn’t fit to speak to me, dimwit.

            2. What I said, was that from a LIBERTARIAN PERSPECTIVE, using lethal force in defense of property is justified.

              You’re making things up.

              Most libertarians would likely not agree that lethal force in defense of property is justified, except perhaps in unusual circumstances.

              1. it wouldnt violate the non agression principle. the state partly exists to provide alternatives to lethal retaliation. maybe he meant anarchist not libertarian

            3. Are you winning the argument you’re having in your fat empty head? You’re definitely not winning any other debate.

          3. okay, but i dont think banning filming police would help those cops. maybe reinforcements would, but not some stupid anti-1A law

      2. Americans cops have less training before they are first allowed to walk the beat than cops in most rich countries. American cops have far less training than cosmetologists.

        1. Really? In my city, cops need a two year criminal justice degree to be eligible to attend the police academy. Which itself is 18 weeks of training. How much training are you expecting?

  7. But of course, the footage from the cop’s body cam would conflict with any shenanigans in the edit app, right?
    What?
    Not all cops have body cams?
    Not all body cams are on when on duty?
    How can this be?
    Surely no department would waste tax payer dollars by buying body cams and then no using them.
    And of course, everything in the infrastructure bill has to do with roads and bridges and such.

  8. What does this have to do with filming cops? The law is about getting close to cops, and I don’t see a problem with that. Thirty feet is a bare minimum; if someone 20 feet from you rushes you, they’ll be on you before you can respond.

    1. This 30 foot distance is an arbitrary and bullshit rule that can and will be abused by cops to their advantage.

      1. If they get hungry during a standoff they’ll just shoot the guy and put into the report that he was 29″ away. Nothing else will happen.

        1. Hey guys, sarcasmic hates (local) cops!
          Did anyone know that?
          He’s so edgy!
          Such insightful commentary that really adds to the topic at hand and never gets boring and tired!

      2. What threshold would you choose? Their potential secondary assailants could conceal knives or pistols, it could be night, and they could be in any number.

    2. Actually, anyone with reasonable competence with a firearm can unholster it and deliver 2 rounds center mass by the time you get to them. Don’t ever make that mistake.

  9. Fuck you Alex Riso.

  10. 30 feet seems overly protective, but not in and of itself preclusive of videoing cops in action.

    15 ft would make a lot of sense. You don’t need to be within 15 ft to video the cop.

    1. agree, below 15 feet is practically melee range

  11. Tactical training for close combat teaches if someone comes within 21ft/7m deadly force is justified. The reason is that distance can be covered quickly enough that the decision to fire and the action of firing is so great the perp will be on you before you can take action.

    While it is easy to say 30ft is to great filming LEOs normally takes place when they are distracted by restraining a perp so there is some justification for a 9ft buffer.

    While there can be disagreement about just how far peeps need to social distance from LEOs I don’t know anyone who thinks LEOs should have some amount of personal space.

  12. Filming should be a legal requirement. Too many cops are as crooked as the perps they’re supposed to protect us from.

      1. They’re protecting innocent plants from you!

  13. It might be helpful in understanding this law if one googled and understood the implications of the Tueller drill. Obviously most people seem to think 20 or 30 feet is a long way away and not a threat to a police officer. However, it’s been repeatedly verified that an average person can, from a flat-footed start, close 21 feet in 1.5 seconds–in general less time than the vast majority of police can draw and fire their firearm. It is not actually shocking to think that folks getting close enough to be a realistic deadly threat to a police officer might make the situation much worse for all concerned.

    I am all for holding police officers accountable for the numerous well-documented acts of barbarism. I’m pretty sure that this law is a bad idea (overcriminalization and potential for abuse). But the likelihood that someone purposefully getting close enough to be a realistic threat to the police office could create the harm one hopes they thought they were preventing or documenting is real, not a fantasy.

  14. The actual bill creates a misdemeanor, not a criminal violation.

    Furthermore, it doesn’t prohibit filming the officer or approaching per se, it prohibits approaching an officer with “intent to Interrupt, disrupt, hinder, impede, or interfere with the law enforcement officer’s ability to perform such duty OR provoke a physical response from the law enforcement”.

    I think it’s a bad bill, but misrepresenting it the way this article does isn’t going to result in effective opposition to it.

    1. Yeah make the argument intellectually honestly. And let us make up our own minds. bTW I think it’s a stupid idea as well.

  15. There is an obvious solution here.

    The police officer should put yellow police tape around the waist of the filmer and then arrest then for being inside a police line.

  16. 1st amendment any other questions?

  17. The law states “It is unlawful for any person, after receiving a
    warning from a law enforcement officer not to approach, to
    violate such warning and approach or remain within 30 feet of a
    law enforcement officer who is engaged in the lawful performance
    of any legal duty ” What happens when the leo approaches you while warning you not to approach?

    1. Obviously, the Author didn’t read the law. Within 30 feet, the State ‘…. must prove there is an intent to Interrupt, disrupt, hinder, impede, or interfere with 23 the law enforcement officer’s ability to perform such duty; 24 (or) 2. Provoke a physical response from the law enforcement …’; Merely being inside 30 feet is not a crime under the proposed law.

    2. When looters say “It is unlawful” they mean “we will send men with guns to kill as many as dare defy us, though they number in the hundreds of thousands.”

  18. That a cop can call ten yards of legally enforced personal space may be an authority that should not be given, but I do not think you need to get within thirty feet to video police activities. This is a weak argument against this bill.

  19. How about looking at it another way: As long as you’re outside of 30 feet you’re legally shielding from the cop’s ability to complain and can do whatever recording you want. I’m assuming there’s some kind of exception to the law though for if the officer approaches you and comes within 30ft.

    1. This.

      It’s a stupid law but only because the world is often stupid. Yes there is a Constitutionally protected right to observe/record police when they are performing their duties in public. It is also entirely reasonable that interfering with a police officer in the lawful execution of his duties should be an offense.

      Leaving this line nebulous and subject to the vagaries/pronouncements of appointed black robes seems much less preferential than a bright line defined by legislation.

      Seven yards seems a little more reasonable to me, but the difference is not great.

      1. Where the exact line should be is obviously something people can (and should!) debate, but yeah. I think the idea of there being a line is ultimately a good thing.

        1. Yep, whether this bill is made law or not, the line still exists. Better that it be clearly defined (and possibly refined as needed.)

          Nation of laws and all that.

  20. “If the police don’t want to be filmed…they should get out of the public service field.” Your assumption is NOT shared by many LEOs.
    The only “service” rendered by some LEOs is their own. As Chief Gates explained to the press when no police protected the people or property during the infamous, horrendous, Watts Riots, “I ordered them to stand down. I would never put ‘my people’ in that danger.”
    And not one reporter asked him who comes first, the public who pay him and his “people”, or themselves. But, I think we know.

  21. Police are trained in the 21′ Rule – Tueller Drill https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tueller_Drill A threat can make contact with a cop before s/he can draw a firearm for self-defense if the threat is ~21 or closer. The tests were run under ideal conditions. I can see 30′ as an extra margin of safety in certain circumstances – particularly when someone peaceful is embedded in a hostile crowd. How can a cop know who is a credible threat or not?

    Mobile phones may not be able to record small details at 30′, but most modern SLRs can record detailed stills and videos at longer distances. It’s a thorny issue to know where to draw the line.

  22. So robbing, beating and murdering folks on behalf of tax-subsidized looter Kleptocracy party politicians is a SERVICE?

  23. Just want to understand this… a person is video recording an interaction between a police officer and a citizen. The two individuals are ten feet apart. The person recording the video has placed themselves between the police officer and the citizen. The citizen decides to flee the scene. The officer, in pursuit, runs into the person recording the event. Both fall to the ground, and the citizen is able to get away from the scene, and evade being questioned by the officer. Is this fine with us all?

    What if it turned out that the citizen had just murdered your family, and is heading in your direction?

    1. I wonder if this is already illegal under “obstruction of justice” or whatever

  24. It is an imperfect world. Obsession for the perfect is frequently the greatest enemy of the good. And law is a blunt instrument.

    Phone cameras by their nature don’t have strong telephoto lenses, and even if they did, the resulting field of view would be much smaller, in some cases eliminating “context”. When used to record incidents from 10 yards away they may in fact miss some details. But when 5 or 10 or 20 videos are being shot simultaneously from slightly to greatly different angles, full perspective should be available. The world is better off with 5 (or 10 or 20) imperfect recordings than it would be with no recordings.

    The police, especially in a hostile crowd situation, reasonably don’t want looky-loos and wanna-be photojournalists crawling all over them (and able to attack from close proximity with no warning), and a 10 yard “zone” is reasonable. Video evidence can protect LEO’s and citizens, or at least expose the truth about their interactions; unfortunately for some police, video recordings have demonstrated police over-reaction and proven police perjury does happen, and that blue line solidarity exists, on more than one occasion. Cops shouldn’t lie, but occasionally they do! and police perjury is rarely prosecuted because police and D.A.’s have symbiotic rather than commensual relationship. Sometimes one (or several) video recordings are the only way to penetrate that symbiosis.

    “Doctoring” a video recording, and then representing, even by implication, that it shows history/fact (i.e., not being forthright about said video having been edited) should be a criminal offense carrying the same penalty as perjury.

  25. This is a red herring. Cops are still subject to being filmed when they are in public as they should be. The proposed rule does not stop this but it does keep amateur journalists from disrupting legitimate police action. Almost all cell phone cameras have a zoom feature. There is no need to be in the officer’s face. There does, however, need to be carve outs for the person being questioned or stopped and passengers in a car stopped by the police. The police are videoing you at close range, you should be able to video them too. Bystanders? Not so much.

  26. Outdoors, 30 ft might be reasonable in some situations, but indoors, that would preclude would-be videographers from even being in the same, largish room as the police, making filming impossible.

Comments are closed.