Cell phone recording of police is ok – says Washington D.C. police chief, Cathy Lanier

We’ve written a number of stories about police officers interfering with citizens who are trying to record the actions of police in public places. In some cases, cops have arrested citizens for making recordings in public. In others, they’ve seized cell phones and deleted the recordings.

The courts and the Obama administration have both said that these activities violate the Constitution. And at least one police department has gotten the message loud and clear.

In a new legal directive first noticed by DCist, Washington DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier explains the constitutional rights of DC citizens and gives her officers detailed instructions for respecting them. She addresses a number of scenarios that have led to controversy in recent years.

“A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media,” Chief Lanier writes. The First Amendment protects the right to record the activities of police officers, not only in public places such as parks and sidewalks, but also in “an individual’s home or business, common areas of public and private facilities and buildings, and any other public or private facility at which the individual has a legal right to be present.”

 

Keep reading: ars technica - DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy

 

Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of Police, Washington, D.C.
August 21, 2007 (Women in Uniform)

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