DC Police Declare Recording Officers Is Not A Crime
It's pretty sad it came down to something like this, but two years ago in July of 2010, Jerome Vorus was walking through Georgetown in Washington, D.C. and decided to snap a few pictures of a routine traffic stop. Before he knew it, he was detained for 30 minutes and questioned by the police.
Vorus went home and wrote a blog post on his ordeal. A member of the ACLU saw it and got involved.
Two years later, it's finally settled with a six-page general order that states,“a bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members in the public discharge of their duties" and a directive finally acknowledging filming the DC police is not a crime.
Police are directed to leave photographers and those with video cameras alone. They can remove a person from an area, but they cannot tell them to stop filming. They cannot try to confiscate their camera, attempt to block it, and cannot demand a persons identification and detain that person. Rights were also extended from the media to citizens.
Furthermore, if the police believe they captured footage that could be used as evidence they cannot simply take it from them at that time, instead they have to ask the person to send it to them, as the Washington Post explains:
If an officer thinks a citizen has captured images that could be used as evidence, police can ask the person to e-mail such images to the department. If the person refuses, the officer can call a supervisor and seek a warrant to seize the camera or images.