Courts Rule Arizona Police Filming Law Unconstitutional

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By Camaron Stevenson

July 25, 2023

Arizona’s law limiting how close people can get to recording police has been ruled unconstitutional.

The law, which was passed in 2022, made it illegal to film police officers within 8 feet if the officer told you to stop.

It also would have allowed officers to order people to stop filming on private property if they determined the area was unsafe or if the person filming was interfering.

A federal judge ruled on Friday that the law violates the First Amendment. The judge said that the law would have “chilled a substantial amount of First Amendment protected activity” and that it was unnecessary to prevent interference with police officers.

The law was supported by Republican lawmakers, who said it was needed to limit people with cameras who deliberately impede officers. However, media groups and civil rights organizations were in vocal opposition and argued that it would make it harder to hold police accountable for misconduct.

Fountain Hills Republican Sen. John Kavanagh, who sponsored the legislation last year, sponsored another bill to criminalize filming police this year, in anticipation of the original law being deemed unconstitutional. This time, the bill failed to pass.

The ruling is a victory for those who believe that the public has a right to film police. It also comes at a time when there is growing concern about police accountability.

In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile cases of police brutality that have been captured on video. These videos have helped to shed light on these incidents and to hold police accountable.

It’s also a reminder that the First Amendment protects the right to film police. This right is essential for holding police accountable and for ensuring that the public can be aware of what police are doing.

Author

  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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