Why do police always demand people to turn off their cameras?

Don’t people have the right to document their curiosity, especially if they are staying courteous to police and the situation and especially if yellow tape isn’t present yet? What if the person with the camera is a part of the situation and needs the footage for insurance or court evidence? People don’t buy and carry cameras for no reason. Police should be focused on more important things at scenes other than the guy on the sidelines with the camera. Who is to say a lens can’t be a bystander to such events? Are police caught up in the moment and afraid they will get caught on tape doing their job wrong?

Why do police always demand people to turn off their cameras?
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8 Replies to “Why do police always demand people to turn off their cameras?”

  1. Protection of the victim’s or others identities. Some do not want to have themselves video taped and it’s the police’s job to stop video recording/pictures if someone in the situation doesn’t wish to be. And since they are on field and don’t know if they want to or noit it’s best they are shut off.

  2. In the US, they can’t stop you from taking pictures, or video legally. In fact, most police cars have video cameras installed in them. They can tell you to leave the scene, if they feel you are endangering others, or interfereing, but that’s all. And if you don’t, there’s not much legally they can do about it. If they arrest you, they will have to prove to a judge that you were endangering others, or interfereing with the police. Otherwise, it is a voilation of your First Amendment rights.

  3. Anyone with a camera rerpresents a potential interruption to the business at hand. Therefore, the police have the right to ban cameras, and also to remove or arrent you if you do not obey them.

    ALSO, things recorded on camera have often found their way onto TV news programs, which can generate unwanted pretrial publicity.

  4. I am sorry but I agree with Rick. Police have cameras in there cars and use them in court against you all of the time. But the officers do not want you to record them. As Rick stated, catching them breaking the law. Which in turn makes it a little harder for them to change the facts to suit them in a situation. I do not care if a cop likes it or not. If I want to video tape a situation I will video tape the situations. Bottom line is the local/state/county law enforcement is afraid that the tapes are not going to show them to be as honest as they would like the american person to believe they are. I would trust a criminal before I would trust a police officer. Wait a minute, some cops are criminals!
    You just can’t trust anybody anymore.

  5. I’ve been out shooting police situations for over 20 years and I’ve seldom been confronted with this situation. When I have run into it, it has usually been private citizens or small town cops who don’t know any better.
    In the United States there are no laws that prevent you from taking video of the police, or police situations. With that said, there are times when this could be a problem. If you were just a third party at a scene and had nothing to do with what was happening you would be fine. However if you were a party to nature of the call then you could be asked to put the camera down. For example you were a driver or passenger in a traffic stop. The camera could be construed as a weapon and the officer would likely make you turn it off and put it down. I suspect this is the kind of situation that you have seen in the past.
    If you are out in public and you see police activity you have every right to videotape or photograph it. This is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Laws to prevent audio taping without consent would be not apply as long as you were clearly visible and were not going to any secret or extreme means to get sound. I’ve heard of charges filed against videographers based on these laws but I’ve yet to actually see one of these cases get to court much less a conviction.
    Most photographers that are arrested in these scenarios are usually being stupid and crossing police lines or willfully harassing the police. If you are out of the way most police officers could not care less and some are even glad to have you.
    When police are in public they have no right of privacy just like everyone else and they also have the right to remain silent should a camera be rolling. I’ve seldom run into this problem other than requests not to show officers faces who might be working undercover and not shooting dead bodies. I don’t shoot bodies anyway, and I always try to comply on the face requests although I’m under no obligation to do so.
    If you are a third party to an incident and are confronted with this situation you best bet is to not cut off the camera and move your finger away from the trigger so you don’t accidentally cut it off. Should you be arrested the tape would be your best evidence.

    Good luck, it can be a lot of fun and I’ve made a lot of police/fire friends doing it.

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