Thursday, September 1, 2011

Court Affirms Legality Of Recording Police Officers

Last Friday, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that affirmed, stronger than ever, the rights of individuals to openly record the actions of police officers.

In 2007, a young lawyer named Simon Glik was walking through Boston Common when he saw three police officers arresting a teenager. Glik thought the officers were getting a little rough, so he flipped open his cellphone camera and started shooting video.

The officers arrested Glik for, in their minds, violating the state’s wire-tapping law, even though the whole incident happened out in public and Glik didn’t try to conceal the fact that he was recording.

The ACLU took up Glik’s cause and the courts threw out the charges against him. Since then, the Boston Police Department has been instructing personnel that the state’s wiretapping law does not apply to people making unconcealed audio or video recordings in public. But Glik and the ACLU have pressed on, suing the BPD and the individual officers for violating his First Amendment rights.

The officers moved to have the suit dismissed, saying they were just enforcing an interpretation of the law that was handed down to them by their superiors. But on Friday, the federal court disagreed.


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