Arizona Criminalizes Close Range Recording of Police Activity

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed a new law that prohibits anyone – including news organizations – from knowingly recording police officers within 8 feet (2.5 meters) without an officer’s permission.

The law includes some exceptions: 

  • A person is allowed to record if they are the one being questioned by a police officer, 
  • if they are an occupant in a vehicle during a traffic stop, or 
  • if they are in a structure on private property where law enforcement activity is occurring,

The penalty for violating the law is a misdemeanor charge and violators face up to 30 days in imprisonment, though only after ignoring a verbal warning.

Lawmakers claim that the new law is meant to protect law enforcement officers from harm or distraction while conducting their duties.  

Civil rights and media groups condemn the law it as an unconstitutional threat to the first amendment and gives the police a vague and disproportionate discretion to enforce.

U.S. Federal  courts have already have ruled that recording the police in public is a clearly established right under the First Amendment.

The new law will take effect on 24 September.

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