Colorado Introduces “Right to Record” Bill Punishing Police Officers Interfering With Photographers

Apr 6, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Colorado Introduces “Right to Record” Bill Punishing Police Officers Interfering With Photographers

Apr 6, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Colorado Police

In a pleasantly surprising yet most welcome turn of events legislators have proposed a bill that will protect photographers’ rights and increase police oversight, rather than limit them suggested by several recent bills.

Unlike the bill proposed in the nearby state of Texas, banning photography within 25 feet of police, Colorado’s bill seeks to punish officers who interfere with lawful recordings of police activity by imposing significant penalties on violators.

The bill, titled “Concerning Prohibiting A Peace Officer From Interfering With A Person Lawfully Recording A Peace Officer-Involved Incident”, is just one of the steps being considered in order to increase police oversight in Colorado and hopefully it will lead to similar legislation in other states.

Joe Salazar (D-Thornton), co-sponsor of House Bill 15-1290, said the bill “came up as a result of the number of news reports we’ve been seeing about police officers telling people, ‘Give me your camera,’ or taking the data away, and that is unacceptable conduct”.

The bill will do so by entitling the photographer to a hefty sum of money, as described in the bill summary:

“The bill creates a private right of action against a peace officer’s employing law enforcement agency if a person records an incident involving a peace officer and a peace officer destroys the recording or seizes the recording without receiving consent or obtaining a warrant or if the peace officer intentionally interferes with the recording or retaliates against the person making the recording. The person who recorded the peace officer incident is entitled to actual damages, a civil penalty of $15,000, and attorney fees and costs”.

The bill considers “retaliation” as a threat, act of harassment or act of harm or injury upon a person or property. It also points out that the punishment set in this bill will not limit the district attorney’s authority to charge the officer with tampering with physical evidence or any other crime.

In an interview with 7 News Salazar had the following to say, with which I personally very much agree:

“That’s the way that we’ll get the attention of law enforcement. Leave people alone if they’re lawfully recording.

By and large it takes a special person to be a police officer, and we want to honor them. But at the same time we do have a few bad apples who need to be aware that their conduct now has major, major consequences to it”.

The Chiefs of Police Association in Colorado is obviously against this bill and a spokesperson said the $15,000 fine is “not an appropriate penalty”.

There’s still a long way to go before the bill becomes a law, and it is very likely that amendments will be made, but this is a great step in the right direction.

[via 7 news via PetaPixel | Lead Image by Rob!]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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4 responses to “Colorado Introduces “Right to Record” Bill Punishing Police Officers Interfering With Photographers”

  1. Rick Avatar
    Rick

    While the Chiefs of Police Association in Colorado may believe the $15,000 fine is “not an appropriate penalty”, it is a significant enough penalty that they will see to it that their officers are sufficiently trained and informed well enough that it will never need be enforced. So yeah, it is the right number.

  2. Jim Pook Avatar
    Jim Pook

    This should be the law in all 50 states – or all 57 Obama states… ;-)

  3. Winslow Leach Avatar
    Winslow Leach

    This won’t pass. The police state wins every time despite out “fair” legal system of checks and balances.

  4. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
    Arthur_P_Dent

    The fine should be assessed against the officer as well. Either that, or sentence the officer to a week in general population.