|Recording policy hailed as national model|
|Recording policy hailed as national model|
|Written by APB Staff|
While there are plenty of stories about cops getting into hot water for the way they handle citizens recording them in the course of their duties, precious few agencies have an actual policy about how these incidents should be handled. In Washington D.C., the D.C. Metro Police have released their official policy on recording of members by the public(GO-OPS-304.19) The policy is being hailed as a national model- both by law enforcement leaders and organizations like the ACLU. If your agency is trying to craft a policy on dealing with members of the public who are trying to record officers in the course of their duties, the approach DC Metro has taken might be of some help. Click "read more," for the policy.
A. Members are reminded that photography, including videotaping, of places, buildings, structures and events are common and lawful activities in Washington, D.C.
1. If a person is taking photographs or recording from a place where he or she has a right to be, members are reminded that this activity by itself does not constitute suspicious conduct.
2. Members shall refer to GO-HRC-802.06 (Suspicious Activity Reporting Program) for guidance concerning identification and reporting of suspicious activities.
B. In areas open to the public, members shall allow bystanders the same access for photography as is given to members of the news media [See GO-SPT-204.01 (Media)]. Members shall be aware that:
2. A bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members in the public discharge of their duties.
3. Public settings include, e.g., parks, sidewalks, streets, and locations of public protests; but that protection extends also to an individual’s home or business, common areas of public and private facilities and buildings, and any other public or private facility at which the individual has a legal right to be present.
4. The fact that a bystander has a camera or other recording device does not, however, entitle the bystander to cross a police line, to enter an area that is closed to the public, or to enter any area designated as a crime scene.
C. As long as the photographing or recording takes place in a setting at which the individual has a legal right to be present and does not interfere with a member’s safety, members shall not inform or instruct people that photographing or recording of police officers, police activity or individuals who are the subject of police action (such as a Terry stop or an arrest) is not allowed; requires a permit; or requires the member’s consent. Additionally, members shall not:
NOTE: Members may ask questions during the course of a contact, but members are reminded that there is no justification for ordering a person to stop or requiring that they answer unless the member reasonably suspects that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit any crime. [See GO-OPS-304.10 (Police-Citizen Contacts, Stops, and Frisks)].
D. Members are reminded that the public does not have a right to interfere with police activity. Interference consists of conduct, threats, actions or activities that prevent or hinder, or purport to prevent or hinder, members from doing their job.
1. If a person is photographing or recording police activity from a position that impedes or interferes with the safety of members or their ability to perform their duties, a member may direct the person to move to a position that will not interfere. However, a member shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording.
2. If a person is photographing or recording police activity from a position that impedes or threatens the safety of members of the public, a member shall direct the person to move to a position that will not interfere. However, members shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording.
3. A person’s recording of members’ activity from a safe distance, and absent any attendant action that obstructs the activity or threatens the safety of the member(s), does not constitute interference.
4. A person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being observed. So long as that expression does not jeopardize the safety of any member, suspect or bystander; and so long as that expression does not violate the law or incite others to violate the law, the expression does not constitute interference.
E. Evidence on a Camera or Recording Device; Probable Cause
1. Probable cause exists where the known facts and circumstances are such that a reasonable member in the same situation would believe that evidence of a crime will be found.
2. If a member has probable cause to believe that a camera or other recording device contains images or sounds that are evidence of criminal acts, the member shall request that the person either:
3. If the person provides the device or recording medium to the member, the member shall:
4. If the individual declines to voluntarily provide the device or recording medium, or to electronically transmit the sound and/or images where possible and practicable, and the member believes that exigent circumstances exist insofar as the evidence of criminal activity will be lost absent a seizure of the device, the member shall contact the Watch Commander, Criminal Investigations Division (CID).
(1) There is probable cause to believe that the property holds contraband or evidence of a crime; and
(2) The exigencies of the circumstances demand it or some other recognized exception to the warrant requirement is present:
1. Absent exigent circumstances, members shall obtain a search warrant before viewing photographs or listening to recordings on a camera or memory chip that has been seized as evidence.
2. In exigent circumstances, where there is reason to believe that an immediate search of the seized material is necessary to prevent death or serious injury, members shall contact the Watch Commander, CID, for authorization to review photographs or recordings without a warrant.
3. The Watch Commander, CID, in consultation with the Commander, CID, may authorize such review without a warrant.
4. Photographs or recordings that have been seized as evidence and are not directly related to the exigent purpose shall not be reviewed.
G. Members shall not, under any circumstances, erase or delete, or instruct or require any other person to erase or delete, any recorded images or sounds from any camera or other recording device that is in the possession of a non-member, or that has been voluntarily turned over or seized under the terms of this order.
H. Members shall maintain cameras and other recording devices that are in Department custody so that they can be returned to the owner intact with all images or recordings undisturbed.
III. CROSS REFERENCE
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