Courts saying taping cops O.K. E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Generally when citizens complain about surveillance, be it a drone in sky or a security camera in housing project, authorities usually respond with something like, “If you’re not doing anything illegal, what are you worried about?”. On the issue of citizens taping police in the course of their official duties, provided they don’t interfere, the courts are asking a similar question.

Cook County, Illinois was refused by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal to a lower court’s ruling that civilians have the right to film police in the course of their duties provided they do not interfere.
In a similar case out of New Jersey, Khaliah Fitchette, 19, will receive an undisclosed sum for damages suffered after police arrested her and threatened to charge the girl with obstruction of justice after she filmed two police officers aiding a man on a bus in March of 2010.

Fitchette says that when she pulled out a cell phone to record two Newark police officers aiding a man who collapsed on a bus she was trying to help a fellow rider. A passenger complained that the delay the collapsed man caused would make him late for work. So Fitchette was trying to record the incident as proof for the man’s boss.

Fitchette says she was dragged off the bus and handcuffed.

Her decision to record the officers in 2010 ended up sparking a major policy change in Newark. Now some officials are saying the change in Newark is likely to be copied around the state.

According to a the settlement, the Newark Police Department is one of the first police agencies in New Jersey to draft a written policy protecting a person’s right to film police officers in public.

"We are pleased that the Newark Police Department has adopted a policy that clearly articulates and respects the constitutional rights of citizens to record police activity," said Barbara Moses, a Seton Hall Law professor who worked on the suit.

According to the new policy, police officers are barred from preventing residents from recording them unless the recording somehow interferes with a law enforcement operation, or the person enters a restricted area.

Police officials have acknowledged that Fitchette was not impeding the officers’ attempts to aid the man who collapsed on the bus.

Implemented in November of 2011, the policy clearly defines scenarios in which police officers can and cannot interfere with a person’s right to record, an update Police Director Samuel DeMaio said was sorely needed.

"In my opinion, the officers really felt like they were doing the right thing," DeMaio told reporters with the Star Ledger.

"Now, we definitely have a policy in place for that and if someone did something like that again there would certainly be discipline."

None of the officers involved in the 2010 incident were disciplined.

But a sergeant who ordered the arresting officers to charge Fitchette with obstruction justice was fired last year after he was indicted on official misconduct charges in providing his friends with scalped tickets to a Miley Cyrus concert in 2007.

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Comments (3)Add Comment
written by Rick Sease, February 07, 2013
I still do not believe anyone should have the right to invade my privacy and video tape me without my consent. It is an infringement and also illegal because you cannot video tape or audio record anybody without their consent.
It is just another thing that hampers the job of being a police officer in today's society.
Sez who?
written by Martin B. Brilliant, January 10, 2014
Rick Sease, February 07, 2013wrote: "I still do not believe anyone should have the right to invade my privacy and video tape me without my consent." What's the source of that belief? Wikipedia says that in the United States, "It is legal to photograph or videotape anything and anyone on any public property." Think about it: you can't claim privacy in a public place.

You can't argue that photography hampers the police unless the photographer is physically hampering them. Police officers are public servants. They must be allowed to do their job, but they must have nothing to hide.
Court says taping cops ok
written by Scott E. Alexander, March 03, 2014
You have no right to privacy on a public street or any public area for that matter. To publish these photos or videos could present a challenge without consent.
Any cop doing his job properly shouldnt fear being taped either.

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