FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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BALTIMORE – Highlighting recent court rulings and an unprecedented legal statement on citizens’ rights to record police actions issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland is contacting local law enforcement agencies throughout Maryland, urging them to establish clear policies and training to ensure that officers conform to the Constitution they are sworn to protect. The DOJ’s first official statements on the high profile issue -- affirming that citizens have a constitutional right to record police officers publicly performing their official duties and offering guidance for policy development – came in the ACLU’s Sharp v. Baltimore City Police Department case. The ACLU hopes that by sharing information with Maryland law enforcement officials about best practices the organization can assist police in heading off problems and protecting the rights of citizens as well as public safety..
- Affirmatively set forth the First Amendment right to record police activity;
- Describe the range of prohibited police responses to individuals observing or recording the police;
- Clearly describe when an individual’s actions amount to interference with police duties;
- Provide clear guidance on the necessity of supervisory review of any proposed action to be taken by officers against an individual who is recording police;
- Describe the narrow circumstances under which it is permissible for officers to seize recordings and recording devices; and
- Indicate that no higher burden be placed on individuals exercising their right to record police activity than that placed on members of the press.
For more information about the ACLU of Maryland’s work regarding the Sharp v. Baltimore City Police Department case visit our page on the issue here: http://www.aclu-md.org/our_work/legal_cases/1