Arizona government approves bill preventing cops from being filmed closer than 8 feet
The governor of Arizona has approved a bill banning civilians from recording videos of police officers at close range.
The measure — signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday and expected to take effect in September — makes it illegal in the state to film police officers eight feet or shorter without a cop’s permission. The punishment for flouting the law is a misdemeanor that would likely include a fine but not jail.
Republican State Rep. John Kavanagh, the bill’s sponsor, said legislation is needed to protect police from those who « have very poor judgment or sinister motives. »
“I am pleased that a very reasonable law that promotes the safety of police officers and those involved in police checks and bystanders has been enacted,” Kavanagh said on Friday. « This promotes everyone’s safety while allowing people to reasonably film police activities, as is their right. »
Kavanagh, who was a police officer for 20 years, changed the law to apply to certain types of law enforcement actions, including the questioning of suspects and encounters involving mental health issues or behavioral.
The law also provides exceptions for people who are the direct object of police interactions. They are allowed to film as long as they are not arrested or searched. A person who is in a car stopped by the police or being questioned is also allowed to record the interaction.
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams recently ripped into civilians filming NYPD officers arresting suspected violators from a close distance.
“Stop being on top of my police officers while they do their job,” Adams said in March. « This is not acceptable and it will not be tolerated. »
But left-wing and civil rights advocates were angry with the law.
“We’re talking about people who are in public and a place where they have a right to be. We don’t talk, as if someone is breaking into the [National Security Agency]fumed KM Bell, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
Stephen Solomon – director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University – told the Washington Post that a « blanket restriction » amounts to a « violation of the First Amendment ».
« Who’s to say that 8 feet is the appropriate distance? It could be in some circumstances, but in other circumstances, no,” he told the newspaper, wondering how such a law would be applied in a situation like a crowded protest.
The automatic approval of the measures comes about a year after the US Department of Justice launched an investigation into Phoenix police forces to determine whether officers used excessive force and abused homeless residents.
It also comes as cellphone videos of cops interacting with the public have been used in recent years as a tool to document encounters with police and hold officers to account who flout the law, including the murder of George Floyd. in 2020.
With post wires