Bill introduced to restrict filming of police officers

There are new details about an effort by Arizona Senator John Kavanagh to prevent the public from taking video of law enforcement.

- There are new details about an effort by Arizona Senator John Kavanagh to prevent the public from taking video of law enforcement.

Under the bill filed late last week, people would not be allowed to record police officers if they do not have their permission, and are standing within 20 feet of the officer.

New information has come out, including what inspired the proposed law and why some say it is unconstitutional.

Sen. Kavanagh says this is all about protecting police officers and allowing them to do their jobs by not allowing people to record them if they are less than 20 feet away.

He's the author of SB1054 that would create a so-called "safety enforcement buffer zone" around officers.

"Why not simply have a rule that everyone understands, stay back 20 feet, get your footage, but don't jeopardize everybody's safety," said Kavanagh.

The bill reads. "It is unlawful for a person to knowingly make a video recording of law enforcement activity, including the handling of an emotionally disturbed person. If the person making the video does not have the permission of a law enforcement officer, and is within 20 feet of where the law enforcement activity is occurring."

"Because if an officer is making an arrest, or doing other law enforcement activities and someone is suddenly behind him, that's a distraction to the officer that might cause the officer to miss something, or have evidence thrown away, or have a weapon pulled on him," said Kavanagh.

The Arizona ACLU says not allowing people to record police officers is a violation of their first amendment right for people to film police officers in public in the course of their activities and this piece of legislation clearly impinges on that right," said Will Gaona with the ACLU.

"You know I can only speculate why it came about, but I would guess it has something to do with the increased scrutiny on law enforcement officers that we've seen in the last few years," said Gaona.

Kavanagh said he was inspired to write the bill because of an encounter he had as a police officer in New York in 1974. He says he was trying to arrest a member of musician Wilson Picket's band at the airport for drug possession when Wilson distracted him and the man tossed the drugs away. He did admit the bill may need to be amended to address people recording their own interactions with officers.


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