Po­lice can be recorded, sixth court rules

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

PHILADELPHIA — A fed­eral ap­peals court in Philadelphia has joined five other cir­cuits in find­ing that cit­i­zens have a First Amend­ment right to video­tape po­lice in public.

The U.S. 3rd Cir­cuit on Fri­day joined what it called the “grow­ing con­sen­sus” that the public can pho­to­graph or record po­lice with­out re­tal­i­a­tion.

U.S. Judge Thomas Am­bro stressed that the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion grants cit­i­zens the right to “in­for­ma­tion about how our public ser­vants op­er­ate in public.”

He ac­knowl­edged the pres­sure faced by po­lice but said by­stander record­ings since at least the Rod­ney King beat­ing by Los An­ge­les po­lice in 1991 have both “ex­posed po­lice mis­con­duct and ex­on­er­ated of­fi­cers from er­rant charges.” Such record­ings, he said, pro­vide dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives than the im­ages cap­tured by po­lice dash­board and body cam­eras.

Each fed­eral ap­peals court that has weighed the is­sue has found it un­con­sti­tu­tional for po­lice to in­ter­fere with such public record­ings, Am­bro said. The tech­nol­ogy al­lows by­standers to com­ple­ment tra­di­tional press ac­counts of how po­lice use their power, he said.

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