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Thread: OT: Right to film police

  1. #1
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    Not really OC related, but I've been looking into the legality of filming police, the legality of police ordering a photographer or filmographer to cease filming, and when the police can seize cameras or film.

    What I've found so far has been largely on blogs and in newspaper articles, with very little unbiased facts or cite's. It seems that it varies quite a bit from state to state as well, so I was wondering what VA statutes apply.

    Hopefully some of you legal eagles out there can help me out.

  2. #2
    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Anyone have one of these?

    http://spypen.factoryoutletstore.com...FVRM5Qod_WnkKw

    [flash=320,256]http://www.youtube.com/v/z6qT0eeZb3Q&hl=en&fs=1[/flash]

    Carry On.

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    Regular Member MSC 45ACP's Avatar
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    AWESOME find, Ed. I'd love to have one of those.

    I've HEARD that you can record public officials on audio and video if they are in a public place and acting in their official capacity as long as you are not "impeding" the performance of their job.

    BUT... I don't know if that is true... Just what I HEARD. I'd also like to hear from a legal type.

    I do KNOW that in Virginia, you can record a conversation as long as ONE party knows it is being recorded. In Maryland you cannot.
    "If I know that I am headed for a fight, I want something larger with more power, preferably crew-served.
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  4. #4
    Campaign Veteran Dutch Uncle's Avatar
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    This does relate to OC. We have had situations where OC supporters have tried to film police during arrests only to have LEO's force the photographers to stop. Chet Szymecki's wife at Town Point Park, and Dan's friend at Waterside Mall come to mind.

    It seems to me that no LEO has any right to privacy while transacting any business in a public venue. He or she might want to stop a record of such transaction, but I can see no justification for it. For that matter, if a dozen of us had been surrounding Chet or Dan in the above events, could the LEO possibly have ordered all of us to put our cell phones away while the LEO was breaking the law? I don't think so. It would have been impossible as well as illegal for such officer to order us to do so.

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    MSC 45ACP wrote:
    AWESOME find, Ed. I'd love to have one of those.

    I've HEARD that you can record public officials on audio and video if they are in a public place and acting in their official capacity as long as you are not "impeding" the performance of their job.

    BUT... I don't know if that is true... Just what I HEARD. I'd also like to hear from a legal type.

    I do KNOW that in Virginia, you can record a conversation as long as ONE party knows it is being recorded. In Maryland you cannot.
    I believe you are correct, but we need a citation of some sort here. There's gotta be case law on this.

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    Tomahawk wrote:
    MSC 45ACP wrote:
    AWESOME find, Ed. I'd love to have one of those.

    I've HEARD that you can record public officials on audio and video if they are in a public place and acting in their official capacity as long as you are not "impeding" the performance of their job.

    BUT... I don't know if that is true... Just what I HEARD. I'd also like to hear from a legal type.

    I do KNOW that in Virginia, you can record a conversation as long as ONE party knows it is being recorded. In Maryland you cannot.
    I believe you are correct, but we need a citation of some sort here. There's gotta be case law on this.

    When it comes to police demands, I would start with "what law makes it illegal?"

    If there is no law against it, it is not prohibited.

    Then dig from there. Maybe for federal civil rights violation law. I know one circuit or district in PA has some on this. Two PA troopers had to pay. But I don't know about VA. Except maybe internal citations in Mrs. Syzmecki's dismissed suit.

    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

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  7. #7
    Regular Member paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Recording is legal in VA as long as one party (you) is present and aware.

    LEOs will tell you some Homeland Security federal law makes it illegal. Whatever. Bet they can't quote it or give you a copy.
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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    ed wrote: Very interesting product, and the prices at that site are very reasonable.

    Does the indicator light face forward or backward though? I would hope it's on the opposite side from the clip, facing back toward your shirt and not out toward the persons/events you are recording.

    I guess a tiny little piece of black tape would do the job though.

    TFred


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    Tomahawk wrote:
    MSC 45ACP wrote:
    AWESOME find, Ed. I'd love to have one of those.

    I've HEARD that you can record public officials on audio and video if they are in a public place and acting in their official capacity as long as you are not "impeding" the performance of their job.

    BUT... I don't know if that is true... Just what I HEARD. I'd also like to hear from a legal type.

    I do KNOW that in Virginia, you can record a conversation as long as ONE party knows it is being recorded. In Maryland you cannot.
    I believe you are correct, but we need a citation of some sort here. There's gotta be case law on this.
    Case law, nothing. Book law.

    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...00+cod+19.2-62

    2. It shall not be a criminal offense under this chapter for a person to intercept a wire, electronic or oral communication, where such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception.
    So yes, any of you here may film my interactions with LEOs, so long as it keeps in spirit of this website's purpose.

    That is me giving permission.
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

  10. #10
    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    TFred wrote:
    Does the indicator light face forward or backward though?
    In another it looked like it faced the side... Yellow in standby.. and BLAZING BRIGHT BLUE (ugh) in record. But like you said.. black tape (or fingernail polish or a sharpie) might diminish it good enough.
    Carry On.

    Ed

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  11. #11
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    Or, if you are electronically inclined, remove it.

    Crush it if you're not.
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    Linda Tripp. Nuff said.

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    bohdi wrote:
    Linda Tripp. Nuff said.
    Maybe in the People's Republic of Maryland, but she broke no law regarding recordings in VA :-)

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    ed wrote:
    Anyone have one of these?
    Edit: I should read the whole thread before asking questions I guess, since someone already did ask the same thing :^).


    What's the deal with the blue light when it's on??? Cop; "Uh, why is your pen glowing?" I do hope you can turn it on without any lights......

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    So Ed, when is your shipment due to arrive? I know you must have ordered at least one at that price.

    ~ Boyd

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    Seems that as long as you are not "identifying a police officer with intent to harass" then you should be fine. See:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...080902126.html

    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...cod+18.2-186.4

    Do stand up for your rights if challenged by police. Remember, police have NO DUTY to tell the truth unless under oath. I cannot tell you the number of times I've seen an officer tell someone to do (or stop doing) something or they would be arrested. Look at the free speech arrest threat from Reston last week for an example.

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE...;pageId=108307

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    Accomplished Advocate BB62's Avatar
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    TFred wrote:
    ...Does the indicator light face forward or backward though? I would hope it's on the opposite side from the clip, facing back toward your shirt and not out toward the persons/events you are recording...
    The video clearly says "Light on back and not visible while in your shirt pocket".

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    TexasNative wrote:
    So Ed, when is your shipment due to arrive? I know you must have ordered at least one at that price.
    I think a group buy is in order!! Wonder what kind of discount we can get if we order 100 of them?

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    nakedshoplifter wrote:
    Seems that as long as you are not "identifying a police officer with intent to harass" then you should be fine. See:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...080902126.html

    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...cod+18.2-186.4

    Do stand up for your rights if challenged by police. Remember, police have NO DUTY to tell the truth unless under oath. I cannot tell you the number of times I've seen an officer tell someone to do (or stop doing) something or they would be arrested. Look at the free speech arrest threat from Reston last week for an example.

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE...;pageId=108307
    For those of you who are as upset as I am over the blatant violation of Constitutional rights as shown in that video, you can file a complaint.

    Officer Cheeks is a sworn police officer with the Fairfax County (VA) School District Police. If you would like to file a complaint against Officer Cheeks, go here:

    https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/contact/MailForm.aspx?agId=2066

    Complaints should be addressed to:

    Major James A. Morris
    Fairfax County Police Department
    (703) 246-2918

    Let Major Morris know that, contrary to what his officer thinks, this is STILL America, the Constitution has not yet been scrapped, the First Amendment still applies, and their oath requires that they respect the right to free speech of all Americans, even when the officer does not like the speech. The First Amendment does not just protect speech the officer on the scene agrees with, and he is not free to implement his own mini-Constitutional suspension zone.

    They don't answer... but you can leave a message.

  20. #20
    Regular Member nemo's Avatar
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    ed wrote:
    Anyone have one of these?
    Ed,

    Yup, and I was wearing it at the class we attended, last week or two. I intended to turn it on (don't tell Dave) to see how well it picked up voices, but forgot to do so, when I came in late.

  21. #21
    Regular Member nemo's Avatar
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    TFred wrote:
    Does the indicator light face forward or backward though? I would hope it's on the opposite side from the clip, facing back toward your shirt and not out toward the persons/events you are recording.
    The light faces away from the subject, when the pen is in the normal position; clipped to shirt pocket or collar. The camera lens faces toward the subject.

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    alnitak wrote:
    Complaints should be addressed to:

    Major James A. Morris
    Fairfax County Police Department
    (703) 246-2918
    Wrong info. See below:



  23. #23
    Regular Member nemo's Avatar
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    alnitak wrote:
    For those of you who are as upset as I am over the blatant violation of Constitutional rights as shown in that video, you can file a complaint.
    I am not as upset as you.... I am MORE upset.


    They don't answer... but you can leave a message.
    I first called the 24-hour number, just a few minutes ago. I said that I was calling about Wesley Cheeks. The girl there knew whohe was and immediately referred me to 571.423.12.00 (I don't know whose the number is). Another girl answered and I made the same statement. She told me thatwhat the video showedwas being investigated as a "personnel issue," and that she could make no comment. I asked her when the investigation would be concluded and she did not know. I asked her whether any public statement would be forthcoming and she did not know. All of that could even be true.

    Keep those cards and letters coming!


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    A second question:

    I have seen in some recent instances, police seizing film, tapes, or in some cases the entire digital device, for evidence purposes. The most recent instance was the BART subway shooting where everyone who was filming with a cell-phone had their phone seized. The only reason some of the footage made it to the light of day was because the train doors closed before the police could seize all of the passengers' phones.

    My understanding is that the police can collect your name and address, but unless the camera is used in the commission of a crime, they need a court order to supoena the film. Unfortunately I can't find any case law or other cite to support this.

  25. #25
    Regular Member nemo's Avatar
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    essayons wrote:
    I have seen in some recent instances, police seizing film, tapes, or in some cases the entire digital device, for evidence purposes. The most recent instance was the BART subway shooting where everyone who was filming with a cell-phone had their phone seized. The only reason some of the footage made it to the light of day was because the train doors closed before the police could seize all of the passengers' phones.
    This is all the more reason to HAVE and USE a phone, camera, or other recording device: to catch these uniformed thugs in the act. Their instinctive grabbing of all such devices is an acknowledgement that they know that they are guilty and do not want to be recognized. The rest of the story is that, even then, how very rarely does the individual uniformed thug pay ANY price for his conduct, and how very often the "internal investigation" informs the public that the cop/cops did everything "just by the book," now go away.

    My understanding is that the police can collect your name and address, but unless the camera is used in the commission of a crime, they need a court order to supoena the film. Unfortunately I can't find any case law or other cite to support this.
    I think that you are correct.I don't worry about any case law. The only way that cops will get my camera is to beat it out of my fingers. Unfortunately, I doubt that they would hesitate for a New York minute to do so.




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