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Is it legal to record police misconduct?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2022 | Police Brutality

Police officers must respect your rights even if they suspect you have committed a crime. So if law enforcement mistreats you, it is natural to be angry and confused. You may believe you will never secure justice for what has happened to you. However, thanks to modern phone technology, someone might have recorded your incident.

Given that smartphones have a camera function, it is easy for witnesses to pull out their phones and begin recording the actions of the police. Such footage has helped the American public become increasingly aware of police brutality.

The right to record the police

According to FindLaw, taking video of police officers is completely legal. However, the recording individual must not interfere with the law enforcement duties of the police. The recording witness must also stay a reasonable difference from the officer, at least six feet. In the event the police ask the witness to move back, the person should comply.

Illegal actions to stop recording

Police officers cannot legally require a person to halt recording. It is possible an officer will arrest a witness who does not obey, but a court could consider the order unlawful and penalize the officer. The police also cannot remove a phone from a person without a search warrant. Again, even if an officer violates this standard, a court may uphold the rights of the witness later on.

If you experience police brutality and notice witnesses using their phones, you may attempt to get their contact information. It is also possible the witnesses will come forward of their own accord. Recordings of your incident might serve as vital evidence if you decide to seek justice for harsh and illegal treatment.