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Beginning In September, A New Arizona Law Will Make Police Recordings Within 8 Feet Illegal

Arizona governor Doug Ducey has signed off on a bill making it illegal for citizens to videotape police officers within eight feet.

On Wednesday (July 6), Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a new bill making it illegal to record within 8 feet of law enforcement activity. Sponsored by former police officer and Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh, violators of House Bill 2319 can face a misdemeanor after receiving a verbal warning and proceeding to record.

“I have no problem with people videotaping police activity, when they’re a reasonable distance away,” Kavanagh told CBS 5 in Phoenix. “This bill simply says you’re free to photograph police officers, but if it’s a potentially dangerous situation, you simply have to stay back 8 feet. It’s a very reasonable bill, and only unreasonable people walk right into the middle of an arrest encounter. It’s dangerous for everybody.”

While bystanders are unable to film police interactions within eight feet, exceptions are made for those at the center of the interaction, those standing in an enclosed space on private property and occupants of a vehicle stopped by the police, as long as the recording does not interfere with law enforcement activity.

Although Kavanagh says that the bill was made for safety purposes, Constitutional attorney Dan Barr disagrees.

“Members of the public have a First Amendment right to video police in public places, and what this tries to do is discourage people from doing that,” he said. “You are punishing people for exercising their First Amendment right, when they are not actually interfering with police.”

The law goes into effect on September 24.

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