Do You Think Recording Police Encounters Is Illegal?

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Recording devices are becoming smaller and ever more ubiquitous, as audio and video recording have become commonplace features of cell phones. Ever since the police brutality against Rodney King by police in Los Angeles in 1991, openly recording police activity has become a common practice. Also, with the advent of social media sites such as Youtube and Facebook, these recordings are quickly uploaded, reaching thousands and even millions of viewers within a very short period.

While many herald this practice as a victory for civilians’ ability to ensure that they are not unduly harassed or victims of police brutality, law enforcement agencies commonly view this as a threat to their ability to perform their jobs, which demand that officers rely on their instincts and training. In fact, officers have arrested several people who were recording police activity as they made arrests in public. Such was the case with Simon Glik, who was arrested for recording police arrest a teenager. Jon Surmacz had a similar experience, as he was arrested in Boston while videotaping police breaking up a house party.

Fortunately, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has issued a memorandum reiterating that police officers can legally be videotaped, photographed, and audio recorded. This measure is designed to increase the transparency of arrests and halt the actions of certain officers who have been destroying the cell phones of witnesses after noticing that they were being filmed.

If you’ve recorded police activity in public, you have not done anything illegal. If you have been harassed or arrested for recording police activity, contact an experienced police brutality and civil rights attorney to explore your options. If you live in Philadelphia or New Jersey and wish to discuss your case with a reputable Philadelphia criminal lawyer during a free consultation, call the law firm of Patrick G. Geckle, LLC today at (215)-735-3326.