Police misconduct is a serious issue that for decades people have found it hard to fight back against. In cases where the police department carried out the investigation after allegations of wrongdoing, people would question how accurate that investigation could be. It often hinged on the testimony of one person and one police officer, with little other evidence.
However, smartphones have ushered in an era of change. It is now easier than it has ever been to record the police. Some activists will do this even when the police are not doing anything wrong, just in case things take a turn for the worse. More and more incidents are getting caught on video, uploaded to social media, played on the local news and the like.
Is this legal? You may have heard of cases where the police tell people to stop taping or even take away their cameras. Are you allowed to film the police?
You are. You can’t interfere with what they’re doing. If they’re making an arrest, for instance, you can film it from the opposite side of the street and they can’t stop you from doing so or try to take the camera. If you run over and get in the way, though, using the excuse that you were recording the event isn’t going to hold up. Interfering with an arrest is still illegal.
The more stories of police misconduct find their way onto film, the clearer it will become that this is an issue that impacts everyone and that happens more than many people realize. Those who get injured or mistreated by the police must know what legal rights they have.