Photography is not a crime, DC Police Chief says


posted Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 10:07 AM EDT

Dc-chief-cathy lanier-logoThe Chief of Police in Washington DC supports the rights of photographers to shoot stills or video in public without being arrested, according to a potentially landmark general order released last week.

The order, issued by DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier (r.), cites the constitutional rights of DC residents under the First Amendment, and instructs her officers to respect them.

"The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) recognizes that members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record MPD members while MPD members are conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity," the directive reads.

Even in cases where an officer might feel a citizen is shooting stills, video or audio "from a position that impedes or interferes with the safety of members or their ability to perform their duties," the officer may ask the person to move out of the way but "shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording."

The legal directive comes as the result of a settlement with Jerome Vorus, who sued the city of Washington DC after he was detained by DC police while taking photos of them as they participated in a traffic stop.

The order also tells officers they cannot take away a citizen's recording device without his or her consent or delete images, video, or audio on the device.

"[An officer] shall not, under any circumstances, erase or delete, or instruct or require any other person to erase or delete, any recorded images or sounds from any camera or other recording device. [Officers] shall maintain cameras and other recording devices that are in Department custody so that they can be returned to the owner intact with all images or recordings undisturbed."

You can read the whole order here.

(Via Ars Technica)