There have been some officers who have asked state legislatures to limit the ability of citizens to take police in the performance of their duties. This is a mistake. We cannot in a free society prohibit people from filming people in a public place. Police themselves take video of people with dashcams, helmetcams and other types of cameras. What we need to do is to limit the ability of people to take the photo of police in the performance of their duties if it interferes with those duties.
Anyone who is under detention or who is participating in a traffic stop should not have the right to video tape the police in the performance of their duties. Passers by should not be able to photograph police activities within a reasonable distance of those activities. Certainly they should not be able to stand in the road, violate a crime scene, or even be close enough to pose an officer safety danger to the officer. I would say that in general I would like citizens to have to stay about twenty to thirty feet away from officers in the performance of their duties.
The video of Rodney King was taken from across the street. With even a poor camera activists or people being oppressed by the police should be able to take video to show poor or illegal police performance. It does not require the videographer to be up in the face of the officer. People in a vehicle that has been stopped by police for a traffic violation sometimes waste an officer’s time and even endanger the officer when they fool with their cameras rather than allow the officer to simply conduct the traffic stop. No right is absolute and certainly I could support some limitation on the right to photograph police in the performance of their duties; that’s what the SGT Says.