Filming the police is a right - but there are some important details you should know: it matters where, when, and how you pull out your camera to record. Here are some things to remember in these high intensity moments when cops are under pressure, because things can turn deadly.
Filming the police should be protected under your First Amendment rights. Be careful how you reach for your phone, though, especially if you’re Black and you’ve been stopped. Sudden movements and police that are on edge are a bad mix. If you’re lawfully in a public space you have the right to record!
The ACLU provides us with some important info we should take note of:
Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.
When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view.
Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations.
Some states have attempted to control the audio portion of video recordings of police by using wiretapping laws. This can get complicated depending on your state's laws around consent to record audio, so be aware. And if you’re on private property there may be rules you must follow that prohibit filming.
Some people make it their business to film the police and hold them accountable, but they often pay the price when police harass or arrest them. Remember you have rights and look into your state’s laws! Be safe out there and learn more here: https://www.aclutx.org/en/know-your-rights/your-right-film-police