The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, which hears allegations of police abuse and recommends disciplinary action, has agreed to study incidents where officers are accused of improperly interfering with bystanders who digitally record arrests, reports the Wall Street Journal. The board will examine if officers are appropriately trained on how to handle people who are recording. It was unclear how many of the board’s 2,545 open cases involve the issue. It is legal for bystanders to record officers as they make arrests.
In the heat of the moment, the rule is sometimes ignored, said board member Tosano Simonetti, a retired deputy police commissioner. “From my practical experience, most cops would react by saying, ‘Get the hell out of here, you can’t be doing that,’ ” he said. “You get hot on the street, and it happens.” Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union said his office fields many complaints on the issue. Eugene O’Donnell of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former police officer said the proliferation of popular videos online contributes to confrontations between camera-carrying bystanders and police. Such videos are posted by “people looking to gain six seconds of fame” and expose abuse, he said.