Lanier: It's Legal to Record D.C. Cops

Bystanders have the same level of photography access as the media

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    NEWSLETTERS

    D.C. police officers cannot interfere with someone who's taking a picture of a working officer after a lawsuit with the ACLU. (Published Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012)

    As long as you're not interfering with police work, you can record District police officers in public places, according to an MPD policy signed by Chief Cathy Lanier last week.

    The order "explicitly recognizes and instructs all the members of the police department that people have a constitutional right to video and audio record them while they're doing public business in a public place," the ACLU's Arthur Spitzer told Legal Times.

    Officers "shall allow bystanders the same access for photography as is given to members of the news media," reads the order, so long as the bystander has a right to be in the place where he or she is recording.

    The policy comes in the wake of a lawsuit from an Arlington man named Jerome Vorus. Last year, after photographing a traffic stop, Vorus was questioned and temporarily detained by police officers in Georgetown. The officers told him it was illegal to take photographs of police without permission.

    The order also makes a provision for potential evidence -- police can ask bystanders to send photographs or recordings to their official email account.