Police are allowed to scan us with radar guns and the government uses traffic cameras to fine us, but recording police in public should be illegal?
In the past this blog has covered attempts to impose draconian penalties for recording police. We have seen that police are more than willing to intimidate people who record them at work. People have been jailed for recording police—though the victims have sometimes pushed back in court.
Now, the Boston Police Commissioner is advocating more of the same.
A few days ago the Bay State Examiner ran an article with the headline, “Boston police commissioner hopes to criminalize recording the police.”
In a recent interview with The Boston Herald, Boston police Commissioner William Evans whined about people who record the police, even going so far as to call for a new law that would criminalize the act of recording a police officer while standing within a certain distance of them.
“If we can get legislation to make it fair, so it protects both sides, then I’m all for it,” Evans told the Herald. “Would I love to see a little distance? I’d love to see that.”
I’m glad Evans finally admits that the public needs legal protection when they record his officers. I’ve needed protection from the Boston police for years as they have threatened me with false arrests, with “physical removal” from a public building, and shoved me around. Actually, I don’t really think that’s what the commissioner meant.
Obviously, the writer has a history with the Boston PD. She (goes by the name Maya so I’m assuming female) may be biased.
She also might have reasons for what she writes.
Commissioner Evans made statements that imply that people with cameras were deliberately getting too close to police to let them do their job. Maya sees it differently, saying that police are stopping their essential security work (if it is really so essential) and getting up close and personal to the people with the cameras.
Evans claims that he’s trying to address the issue of people interfering with police, but if that’s true, there’s no reason to pass a law singling out people who are recording. By targeting only those who are recording, it’s clear that Evans wants to criminalize journalistic activity, not interference.
If a law like the one Evans hopes to see passes, it could potentially make it illegal to record police in almost any circumstance. Any time a police officer approached a person, it would be illegal for that person to record the interaction if the cop got close enough to them.
It is amazing to me that police think they are helping themselves by advocating such laws. I understand that video can be misused. But laws against video recording public employees in public is way too extreme.