It took an unlawful arrest and an embarrasing $8,000 settlement, but the Seattle Police Department has issued a new policy clarifying that citizens are within their rights to document police activity, as long as they are not interfering with the investigation.
The newly issued policy also states that police are not allowed to confiscate a person’s camera for video evidence “without cause or court order,” according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
The new policy clearly reminds officers that bystanders have a right to watch or film officers making an arrest, as long as they don’t interfere or threaten their safety, said Kathryn Olson, civilian director of the department’s Office of Professional Accountability, which investigates allegations of police misconduct.
The policy is intended to clarify when bystanders’ behavior is considered threatening or unlawful, such as when they move too close or step into a scene, Olson said.
It also emphasizes that police can’t simply seize someone’s camera for video evidence without cause or court order and suggests alternative means of negotiating with the witness.
The American Civil Liberties Union, who last year sued on behalf of Bogdan Mohora, the photographer who was wrongfully arrested, worked with the police department in drafting the new policy.
What are the odds of the Miami Police Department issuing a similar policy?