Should taping police officers in public be against the law?

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MissyJ's picture
Joined: 01/31/02
Posts: 3228
Should taping police officers in public be against the law?

For the purpose of debating this does *not* include those persons that are actively interfering with an arrest (i.e. creating an obstacle for an arresting officer or striving to resist arrest.)

There have been a growing number of news items of police confiscating cell phones of bystanders recording arrests or confrontations with officers... or to the extreme of the person taping the unfolding events being arrested for 'obstruction of justice.'

Do you believe that people have the right to record actions of police officers (including arrests)... particularly when it occurs in public -- or should that be against the law?

Here are a few different news stories for a point of reference:

Man Arrested After Taping Arrest With Cell Phone


Fall River Man Arrested For Videotaping Police Officer

Video Shows Officer Confronting Man Filming Arrests In Towson

Oklahoma Police Beat Man to Death Before Confiscating Cell Phone Camera that Captured Beating (Looks like a blog 'news' site)

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

Not at all.

ETA: The question in the subject line and the question in the text are opposites. Yikes! I'm answering the question in the subject line.

Adding more: In general, I'm not OK with videotaping everything going on around you just because you're in public. Sorry, dude, but just because my kids are super cute and are out in public doesn't give you the right to film them. And I don't think simply doing your job in public gives the public the right to videotape your each & every movement. But when it comes to police officers and security guards and maybe even firefighters, when doing your job affects people's lives and bodies and personal security, and also when that job brings with it a certain amount of.... hmmm.... bravado, I don't think it should be illegal to tape them when doing their job might quickly turn into something ugly, either way. I think there are at least as many first responders exhonerated by bystander video as are implicated by it. Being videotaped shouldn't affect the way they do their job, but if they think it might, then maybe they're doing their job a bit the wrong way.

MissyJ's picture
Joined: 01/31/02
Posts: 3228

I intended for the debate question to be the same as the subject line. I reworded it. Does this make more sense?:

Do you believe that people have the right to record actions of police officers (including arrests)... particularly when it occurs in public -- or should that be against the law?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

Still not quite right. [h=2]Should taping police officers in public be against the law? I would say no.[/h]Do you believe that people have the right to record actions of police officers (including arrests)... particularly when it occurs in public? I would say yes.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

As long as you are not actually interfering with what is happening, yes filming should be legal. It protects the people and the police. Had Holliday not taped the Rodney King arrest, those officers would never have been held accountable.

You can't expect privacy in general when you are in public.