Civilians can record police encounters, but when is it interference?

A bill in Texas would make it illegal to record police within 25 feet. That would give a clear definition of what interference is.

For eyewitnesses of police activity, the law is crystal clear, according to Mark Graber, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Maryland: “You can film police on duty as long as you’re not interfering with their activities.”

“Interfering” is the key word when discussing the legality of recording encounters with the police.

“Precisely what constitutes ‘interfering with police duties’ is not entirely clear,” Graber says. “This strikes me as an issue that within five years is likely to be a Supreme Court decision.”

In the meantime, he says, the gray area includes determining how far away eyewitnesses should stand with their cameras so as to not get in the way of police.

“It gets murky when, in fact, people recording are so close to the police officer that they’re distracting the police officer, or the police officer can’t tell is that a camera or a weapon,” says Graber. “Those are where things matter.” (NPR)

Today’s Question: Civilians can record police encounters, but when is it interference?