NYPD officers educated about photographers’ rights


posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 1:23 PM EST


If you're based in New York and you like to photograph the police at work, you can hopefully breathe a small sigh of relief today, thanks to an internal memo circulated within the New York Police Department. It mirrors that distributed two years ago by the Washington DC police department, and instructs officers not to prevent photo or video capture without good cause. 

It seems that all too often we hear about photographers who've been questioned, harassed, or sometimes even had their gear confiscated, merely for taking photographs or video of police officers going about their duties. When incidents like these take place on public property, don't interfere with police activities, and when nobody has been put in harm's way, photographers understandably get rather upset about such intrusions. We have a right to be there and to document what we see, after all.


Now, the office of NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks has published a memo aiming to bring its officers up to speed on photographers' rights. According to a report in the New York Daily News, the memo instructs officers that "intentional interference such as blocking or obstructing cameras or ordering the person to cease constitutes censorship and also violates the First Amendment." It goes on to warn that photographers and videographers should be allowed to continue unless they're actually interfering with the officers' duties.

More details can be found in the New York Daily News article.

(Police car image courtesy of Austen Squarepants / Flickr; New York Police Department image courtesy of Andre Gustavo Stumpf / Flickr; used under a Creative Commons CC-BY-2.0 license. Images have been modified from the original.)