It is every person’s right to film as long as they are not interfering with a crime scene or an investigation.
Did you know? Though a police officer may tell you to stop recording, they actually have no right to confiscate your camera or iPhone. As Delroy Burton, chairman of D.C.’s Metropolitan police union and a 21-year veteran explains,
“As a basic principle, we can’t tell you to stop recording. If you’re standing across the street videotaping, and I’m in a public place, carrying out my public functions, [then] I’m subject to recording, and there’s nothing legally the police officer can do to stop you from recording.”
“What you don’t have a right to do is interfere,” he adds. “Record from a distance, stay out of the scene, and the officer doesn’t have the right to come over and take your camera, confiscate it.”
Because few people are aware of their right to capture video, an unnamed journalist decided to press the “record” button when a police officer harassed him for capturing footage. He then proceeded to school the law enforcement worker on his rights.
The journalist, who has some form of military or para-military background, points out that it is legal to film from the road. To this, the cop tells him that because he is on the side of the road, he is technically on government property. Fed up, the individual then demands the officer call his superior, then suggests he calls his superior’s superior. He adds,
“As a matter of fact, you better call your base PIO.”
At this point, the officer’s confidence drops and he appears to question himself. Once others show up at the scene, they, too, are taken aback by the journalist’s audacity and knowledge of the law.
Remember this the next time you are told to stop recording. It is every person’s right to film as long as they are not interfering with a crime scene or investigation.
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