Rules for recording police actions

As I have written before most people, especially if they are not young and/or a person of color and/or poor, usually have no reason to fear interactions with the police. And most police officers are unlikely to abuse their power. But there have been occasions when unscrupulous police have abused people because of the presumption that their version of events will be taken as the correct one.

One way to protect yourself is to record the interaction. Steve Silverman says:

Slowly but surely the courts are recognizing that recording on-duty police is a protected First Amendment activity. But in the meantime, police around the country continue to intimidate and arrest citizens for doing just that. So if you’re an aspiring cop watcher you must be uniquely prepared to deal with hostile cops.

But what exactly are you allowed to do? And how should you react if the police forbid you from recording them? Silverman provides seven rules for recording police.

Meanwhile cartoonist Ted Rall provides a variant of ‘the talk’ that young black men are given for avoiding trouble.


  1. sometimeszero says

    I really like these posts—thank you.

    In my home state, Pennsylvania, there still seems to be quite a bit of confusion with wiretapping laws.

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