New Arizona bill would prevent people from filming police officers closer than 15 feet away

A new bill in the Arizona state legislature would put limits on how close people can record encounters with police. 

Republican Representative John Kavanaugh, who is a former police officer, is sponsoring the bill.

Kavanaugh says he was approached by officers in Tucson who were worried that citizen videographers were coming too close to the cops who were doing their job.

The video of George Floyd's arrest stunned the nation. The arrest led to the murder of George Floyd, and the video led to the arrest of the officer, Derek Chauvin.

"The civilian video on George Floyd's incident was taken from about 15 to 20 feet away. And because of that, it captured everyone at the scene, and it was more useless from an informative and evidentiary manner," Kavanaugh said.

Kavanaugh says his bill is meant for safety, for the officer and the citizen shooting the video. 

"You can film all you want from 15 feet. It's only when you want to get closer where you begin to be a potential threat or distraction to the officer. But you have to stay away unless the officer said it's ok to come close," Kavanaugh said.

When cell phones with cameras became popular, videos of police incidents were soon to follow.

Attorney Dan Barr says this bill is unnecessary and undermines the first amendment.

"It's crazy thinking about that for a second. The video that led to the criminal conviction of the police officer who killed George Floyd would itself be a criminal act. And that makes no sense whatsoever," Barr said.

Kavanaugh is sticking to his guns. He believes the 15-foot rule would provide better video of the entire incident, and is sensible and safer for everyone involved.

"My bill is quite reasonable. It says you can film but unless the officer gives you permission, stay 15 feet away."

Barr says there are already laws on the books to prevent these kinds of problems, like getting arrested for interfering with an officer.

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