Department of Justice: recording police is constitutionally-protected

By » Sun, May 20 2012
Oi shut it otherwise were taking you in 450x454 Department of Justice: recording police is constitutionally protected

Citizen journalism meets agency procedure (img by Teacher Dude's BBQ)

In a win for technology, citizen journalism, and our Constitutional rights, the U.S. Department of Justice has issued a letter to the Baltimore City Police Department reconfirming that photographing, video- and audio-recording on-duty police officers is a Constitutional right protected by the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

“Because recording police officers in the public discharge of their duties is protected by the First Amendment, policies should prohibit interference with recording of police activities except in narrowly circumscribed situations,” reads the DoJ’s letter (.pdf). “More particularly, policies should instruct officers that, except under limited circumstances, officers must not search or seize a camera or recording device without a warrant. In addition, policies should prohibit more subtle actions that may nonetheless infringe upon individuals’ First Amendment rights. Officers should be advised not to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement activities or intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices.”

This is a direct result of the police, particularly in Baltimore, arresting, hassling, or otherwise harassing people who have been documenting their actions. So in a way, this over-the-top police behavior was a good thing, right? By affirming a constitutionally-protected right? Yeah no, I’m kidding.

Things got even crazier in Connecticut, where a police officer drew a gun on a guy taking pictures, only to be arrested himself later because the guy taking his picture was a police officer, and also, they were at the police station.

The best part was that he was taking the photo of the other cop because he was literally sleeping on the job:

A veteran Metro-North Railroad police officer, David Davis, was arrested Friday after police said he threatened another officer with his gun after that officer took a photograph of him sleeping on duty.

Davis was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment. He was released on a written promise to appear in court.

According to police, Davis was asleep at his desk in the MTA office on Union Avenue when fellow officers thought it would be funny to photograph him.
Police said one of the officers, John Freeman, pulled out his camera phone and was photographing Davis with it when Davis woke up. They said Davis drew his 9mm Glock handgun from its holster and pointed it at Freeman’s head, telling him, “No one’s taking pictures today.”

Still, try not to annoy cops. You never know what’s going to come of that…

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