In Federal Hill, citizens allowed to record police - but then there's loitering..
February 11, 2012|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
The officers on Saturday got Cover to stop filming, not by telling him to cease recording or seizing his camera. They told him he was loitering, and that he had to move along or risk arrest.
It's a caveat - some might say loophole - in the new general order publicly trotted out by police on Friday, three days before they're due in court to argue in a lawsuti brought by the ACLU that they are properly addressing citizen's right to record.
The new rule says that citizens have an "absolute right" to photograph or video record the enforcement actions taking place in public view. The chief legal counsel for the agency called it "an extension of the citizen's right to see. [An officer] wouldn't go up to a citizen at a crime scene and tell them to close their eyes, so the officer can't tell them they can't film."
But the rules also says that the person recording may not "violate any section of any law, ordinance, code or criminal article" - such as loitering - while doing so. The officers on Cross Street seemed aware of that fine print.
The police union says the officers acted appropriately and professionally; the ACLU says it shows there's more work to be done. "I think the inescapable takeaway is that the new policy,a nd any training that might have been conducted on the policy, have not been effective at changing the custom and practice of the BPD with respect to citizens' rights to record," said Deborah Jeon, of the Maryland ACLU.