DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Says Citizens Have Right To Record Police On Duty.
I’m not sure why I’m covering this, since I’m not a lawatician or anything, save for the fact that I find it really interesting. The US Department of Justice sent a reprimand to the Baltimore Police Deparment this past Monday being all like, “citizens can video tape you on duty”, high-fiving civil rights for once.
In May 2010, Baltimore police arrested Sharp at the Pimlico Rase Course after he recorded officers arresting and beating his acquaintance. During the incident, the officers seized Sharp’s cellphone and destroyed all of the videos it contained. The BPD and the Police Commissioner then sought to dismiss Sharp’s case against them, ironically citing a police policy that was intended to prevent officers from disrupting lawful recordings made by citizens. That policy, General Order J-16, contains a loophole that allows officers to interfere with recordings if the person recording video is actively violating a law – a relatively low hurdle for officers who have inappropriately used some laws, like anti-loitering laws, to justify their actions.
In a separate recent incident, Baltimore police officers harassed a citizen who was recording them during an arrest because he was allegedly loitering (video below). Mickey Osterreicher, General Counsel for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), finds the department’s commitment to its own policy lacking. He tells us that after the BPD implemented its policy, “I found it very interesting when on that Saturday, the next day, there was another incident with police disrupting someone’s recording.” Though the BPD announced that it had trained officers in accordance with the policy, Osterreicher says “I was wondering whether they had actually spent that time training the officers on new ways to circumvent the public being allowed to record them.”