Last week, John Kavanagh, a Republican State Senator of Arizona, introduced a new bill that would make it illegal to film police in all but extremely limited circumstances.
Senate Bill 1054 states that the public wouldn’t be able to film a police officer any closer than 20 feet. Furthermore, even if someone is the required distance away, or filming legally in their own home, the officer would be able to request them to stop. From that point on, if the individual continues to film, they can be arrested and charged.
To add salt to the yet-to-be-passed bill, the 20 foot distance is essentially irrelevant, as the bill allows officers to make the judgement calls and determine if someone is interfering, regardless of distance.
This is far from the first incident involving laws aimed at preventing recording of officers, but it’s certainly one of the more concerning considering the ambiguous verbiage of the laws and subsequent violations.
Anyone who violates the law would be charged with a ’petty offense,’ unless the person filming continues to record in which case it would be bumped up to a Class 3 misdemeanor, potentially resulting in fines up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 3 months.
As pointed out by The Free Thought Project, a similar bill was proposed by Texas Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) that would’ve made it illegal for people to film police. Once the news of the bill went viral, it was almost immediately terminated due to the backlash from constituents.
[via US News]
Image credits: Arrest by low-key images used under CC BY-ND, John Kavanagh by Gage Skidmore used under CC BY-SA 3.0
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