Can you Record the Police?In the 21st century, we have technology at our fingertips 24/7. Cell phones today go way beyond just making and receiving calls; they allow you to take pictures, videos, search the web, check social networks, send e-mails, along with thousands of other features. Even the most basic cell phones have the ability to take pictures and record videos. They have become a powerful tool to protect our civil rights and fight against police brutality.

Over the past few years, several cases have raised an eyebrow questioning: do we have a right to record the police? In many of these cases, the videos revealed evidence that would drastically change the outcome.

There is a wide misconception that it is illegal to record police officers. As an American citizen, you have a right to record or take pictures of law enforcement in places you are legally present.

Officers are usually displeased when you try to take a picture or film them—they will often order you to stop and some will even take your phone and delete the photos or video. However, they are prohibited to do so. Court cases have ruled that doing so is a violation of our Fourth Amendment—right against unreasonable search and seizure and Fourteenth Amendment—right to procedural due process.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is encouraging citizens to capture police actions. To protect your rights follow these Do’s and Don’ts when recording them:

Do:

  • Stay a safe distance away
  • Inform the police that you taking a video
  • Follow the officer’s instructions to identify yourself or step back
  • Contact ACLU if you are threatened with arrest

Don’t:

  • Obstruct or interfere with police activity
  • Trespass or go onto private property
  • Give permission to search your phone or camera or delete content without a warrant

When the police stop you from recording or delete videos from your phone, they are abusing their authority. If this has happened to you, call me, defense attorney David C. Barry, to protect your rights: (732) 238-8686.