DC police chief issues extremely excellent guidelines on citizens taking pictures of cops


As part of a settlement with Jerome Vorus, who was ordered to stop taking pictures by DC cops, DC chief of police Cathy Lanier has issued guidelines to her officers on citizen photography of police activities. They are extremely excellent guidelines, too, as Timothy Lee writes in Ars Technica:

"A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media," Chief Lanier writes. The First Amendment protects the right to record the activities of police officers, not only in public places such as parks and sidewalks, but also in "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."

Lanier says that if an officer sees an individual recording his or her actions, the officer may not use that as a basis to ask the citizen for ID, demand an explanation for the recording, deliberately obstruct the camera, or arrest the citizen. And she stresses that under no circumstances should the citizen be asked to stop recording.

That applies even in cases where the citizen is recording "from a position that impedes or interferes with the safety of members or their ability to perform their duties." In that situation, she says, the officer may ask the person to move out of the way, but the officer "shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording."

She also notes that "a person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being observed."

There is more, and it's all excellent. We have the good folks at the ACLU to thank for helping Mr Vorus win his settlement with the DC police.

DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy (Thanks, Ben!)

(Image: 12.MPDC.HorseMounted.SE.WDC.23March2012, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from perspective's photostream)