Washington, D.C., Police Affirm Public Right To Photograph Them Working


To settle a federal lawsuit brought by a man who claimed he was wrongly detained after taking pictures of police activity, the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department has issued a general order spelling out the public’s right to photograph and record police officers carrying out official business, reports Legal Times. The order “explicitly recognizes and instructs all the members of the police department that people have a constitutional right to video and audio record them while they’re doing public business in a public place,” said Arthur Spitzer of the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit.

Police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said the order “reaffirms the Metropolitan Police Department’s recognition of the First Amendment rights enjoyed by — not only members of the media, but the general public as well — to video record, photograph and or audio record MPD members conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity.” Jerome Vorus complained that he was taking pictures of a traffic stop in the Georgetown area when police officers approached him and asked him why he was taking pictures. He claimed that four different officers told him it was illegal to take pictures without permission from the public affairs office, which, he noted in the lawsuit, is not the case. He said he was temporarily detained and that police checked his identification.

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