Is it Legal to Photograph or Videotape Police?

Since 9/11, a disturbing pattern of innocent individuals being harassed by the police for taking still and video photographs in public places has emerged across the country.

The ACLU, photographers' groups, and others have been complaining about such incidents for years — and we have been consistently winning in court. Recently, an appeals court ruled, on behalf of an ACLU client, that Americans have a First Amendment right to videotape the police making an arrest in a public park.

Yet, a continuing stream of these incidents (often driven by police who have been fed "nonsense" about links between photography and terrorism) makes it clear that the problem is not going away. New examples continue to be reported weekly, and sometimes daily, on web sites such as Photography is Not a Crime.

Taking still and video photographs of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right — and that includes the outside of federal buildings, as well as transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.

Of course, as with everything there are some narrow exceptions and limits. That's why we have created a new web resource on photographers' rights, including a "Know Your Rights" page. Everyone — photographers and police — should be clear on what rights we have in America when engaging in photography in public spaces.

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Anon

If the public is allowed to do this, then the notorious paparazzi will have free reign to photograph the famous AND their children in any public situation 24/7 without threat of prosecution.

Anonymous

A federal judge has determined it OK to record police on duty. Enough said.

Anonymous

Actually, no, since papparazzi can be charged for stalking and personal harassment. This issue of photographing the police has absolutely nothing to do with the paparazzi question.

Anonymous

Actually no, since paparazzi can be charged with harassment and stalking. Photographing the police has nothing to do with the paparazzi issue.

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Anonymous

o plz Policemen are mean if you do somthing or not

Anonymous

I know this is kinda old, but I have a question. Is it legal to film or video an officer at a border checkpoint? Not actually on the border, but you know, the ones you can often find a few miles away.

Officers were very rude to my child and I in regards to our exposed camera. The officer thought my child took his photo and lets just say it wasn't pretty.

Anonymous

I am a police officer and I treat people that I have or had to encounter with respect until they disrespect me as a person and as an officer.
I have been raised to treat people with respect and I find that for me it makes my job a lot easier, however there are some people you just can't be nice too.
And that's when the videotape and/or cameras come out, unfortunately they don't capture the public being disrespectful, belligerent, uncooperative and disorderly they just see the officer as being the bad guy.
REMEMBER all Police, Sheriff's Deputies, State and Federal Law Enforcement Officers aren't bad, so PLEASE STOP PUTTING GOOD OFFICERS IN THE SAME CATEGORY AS THE BAD ONES!!!!!!!!!!!
Our job is hard enough, remember a good officer puts his life on the line every time he put on that uniform, and prays he get to go home to his family at the end of his shift. So please keep in mind that ALL OFFICER AREN'T BAD!

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