Seems like a no-brainer that in a free country a citizen should be allowed to film whatever they see in public, freely, without being charged with a crime. Sadly, many jurisdictions have done their very best to actually criminalize video-recording, particularly of police and officers, or whenever it seems to be in the interests of the power-that-be to do so. In some states it is actually a felony to record public officials if there is an audio component to the recording, according to antiquated wiretapping laws. The police can film us as they please, but we can not film them back.
Let's keep in mind here who is working for who folks. The fact that this is even a discussion just goes to show how scary things really have gotten, and how privileged the police believe they actually are. But with that, we will cheer this small victory and the good sense of the policy-makers in Baltimore, Maryland.
The new policy came just days before a court hearing alleging that a citizen's rights were violated when a Baltimore PD officer confiscated and deleted a recording made of a confrontation had a horse race.
One attorney had this to say...
"This is an extension of the citizen's right to see. (A police officer) wouldn't go up to a citizen at a crime scene and tell them to close their eyes so the officer can't tell them they can't film."
For more on the story check out this link to PoliceOne.Com.
The Baltimore City Police Department has a new General Order which states the following:
Upon discovery that a bystander is observing, photographing, or video recording the conduct of police activity:
1. DO NOT impede or prevent the bystander's ability to continue doing so based solely on your discovery of his/her presence.
2. DO NOT seize or otherwise demand to take possession of any camera or video recording device the bystander may possess based solely on your discovery of his/her presence.
3. DO NOT demand to review, manipulate, or erase any images or video recording captured by the bystander based solely on your discovery of his/her presence.
4. For investigative purposes, be mindful of the potential that the bystander may witness, or capture images/video of events considered at some later time to be material evidence.
5. BEFORE taking any police action which would stop a bystander from observing, photographing, or video recording the conduct of police activity, Officer(s) must have observed the bystander committing some act [deemed criminal, such as obstruction, disorderly conduct or interfering with an officer's lawful duties].
Source: Baltimore Police Department General Order J-16
And here are two video clips to remind us of why it is important to not give police and special privilege, why it is important to maintain our rights, and why it is important to be able to film in public...