Arizona Law That Bans Recording of “Law Enforcement Activities”: Read It For Yourself
An Arizona law that bans recording of “law enforcement activity” close up is drawing controversy, complaints, and constitutional questions.
On July 6, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law a bill that makes it illegal to record law enforcement within 8 feet (about 2.4 meters).
Under the new law, it is a misdemeanor if someone keeps recording, after getting a verbal warning to stop. There are, however, some exceptions to the law, including if the person recording is the one being questioned by police.
While supporters say the law is meant to protect law enforcement from harm or distraction, critics say the law is unconstitutional, and does nothing to enhance transparency.
The original proposal from Rep. John Kavanagh made it illegal to record within 15 feet of an officer interacting with someone unless the officer gave permission. The revised bill was approved on a 31-28 party-line vote Feb. 23 and lowered the distance to 8 feet.
It also now allows someone who is in a car stopped by police or is being questioned to tape the encounter and limits the scope of the types of police actions that trigger the law to only those that are possibly dangerous.
Kavanagh said he made the changes to address constitutional issues. He said the new 8-foot limit was based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case involving abortion protesters.
Democratic Minority Leader Reginald Bolding said that the measure is the wrong way to boost transparency and ease the perception in minority communities that they are not safe from police misconduct.
“One way to not do that is telling them that they cannot use their cellphones or do any type of recording unless it’s within a specific set of guidelines,” Bolding said during a vote back in February.
Media groups including The Associated Press said the measure raises serious constitutional issues. They signed onto a letter from the National Press Photographers Association in opposition to the bill. Letting an officer decide on the spot what First Amendment-protected activity should be allowed would be problematic in many situations, the letter said.
Read The Arizona Law related to law enforcement activities for yourself here:arizona law