While it is already a well established First Amendment right, the New York State Assembly passed a bill Monday confirming the ability of members of the public to legally record police officers on the job.

“As we seek to bring transparency and accountability to our criminal justice system, we cannot look past the fact that too often incidents of brutality and excessive force do not come to light unless they are caught on camera,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said via a news release on the legislation. “This legislation will ensure that New Yorkers rights are protected, and incidents are not suppressed from the public.”

The topic has come to forefront in light of the death of George Floyd while in custody of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, MN last month. A video recording of Floyd's death was captured by by-standers.

As noted in the release from Heastie's office, the Right to Monitor Act 'confirms' and 'protects' the public's ability to record (to include audio, video or still images) the actions of police offier, peace officers, security guards, ''or similar official who is engaged in law enforcement activity.''

The press release states it also gives ''individuals a legal course of action if an officer interferes with lawful recording. The bill would also protect an individual’s right to maintain custody and control of the recording.''

It should also be noted that if you are being arrested, you can't ask the police to stop so you can pull out your smart phone to record them.

The legislation passed by the Assembly asserts this right for ''a person not under arrest or in the custody of a law enforcement official...''

The bill has not been voted on the in NY Senate, but again, is already accepted nationwide as a right under the First Amendment.

There have been rumors reported incidents over the years involving a member of law enforcement asking bystanders to stop recording them, and some where police have confiscated the recording device and destroyed said videos, photos, etc.

In one such incident in Boston, Glik vs Cunniffe, a man was arrested for refusing to stop recording officers who were arresting another man in a park. The US Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Simon Gilk, unaminously ruling he was exercising a First Amendment right to record public officials while in public.


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