Do you know what the truth is about your right to record? The recent Walter Scott shooting has raised the question once again about whether police can legally confiscate smartphones and other personal devices from citizens who record police action during encounters with the public.
The Walter Scott case, specifically, has fanned the flame on the abuse of power debate which police have been struggling to come out from under.
When the Ferguson case erupted last year, the public seemed divided about whether abuse of power was evident. This event, as well as others which have followed, have created a rally cry from the public—a cry for more video recording, more evidence, more “play-back” material.
But the big question many in the public sphere want answered is whether or not the everyday citizen is allowed to record police activity they witness.
Yes, to the Right to Record
According to the First Amendment, the public does have the right to record police as they do their duties in public, and this has been well-established. Nonetheless, as a recent article on the Walter Scott story noted, “cops often violate that right by ordering people to turn off their cameras, confiscating their cellphones or arresting them on trumped-up charges.”
In the case of the shooting of Walter Scott, the details that emerged from a video taken by Feidin Santana show how valuable video evidence is. After all, the details from the video were what led to the arrest of patrolman Michael Slager.
What’s more, additional details have since emerged about another video showing that an assisting officer, Clarence Habersham, may not have provided CPR or first aid (although he said he did) and still a third video has surfaced from a dash cam on which a conversation is reportedly had between two officers regarding the Scott case.
What the nation has seen in the midst of the increased scrutiny on police departments is that the movement to video recording and utilizing these digital videos as evidence is both well-established and won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
In the midst of this, the public needs to know that it can record police activity. Legally.
We are sitting within a storm of change and volatility, in an era where public trust is eroding and solutions are proliferating. What steps are you taking instill trust back into the public? Have you thought about how utilizing digital recording solutions like iRecord’s can help?