Almost everyone has a smartphone and almost every smartphone has a camera. This means that any average Joe can capture the next breaking news story with a few swipes of their thumb.
Videoing the police has become a contentious topic, and it’s something everyone needs to understand. Smartphone videos have been important pieces of evidence in recent high profile cases. Take the Eric Garner case for example.
But can you video the police, and if so when?
The simple answer is yes. In the state of Florida there are no laws that specifically outlaw videotaping of police. There are a few exception to this rule though.
When you can’t video police
You can NOT video police if they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For instance, if the officer is using the restroom or off duty inside their house, you can’t film them because it can be reasonably assumed that they should expect to have privacy there.
But if the officer is out in public walking the beat, you can film them.
In case you were wondering, this reasonable expectation of privacy law applies to everyone, not just cops. So you can film anyone, provided they do not have an expectation of privacy.
You can NOT video police if it obstructs justice or prevents them from doing their job. There’s a little grey area here, and it’s somewhat hard to define. Generally, as long as the act of videoing does not stop the police from carrying out their duties or put them in harm, you should be in the clear. Just make sure to use common sense and give them plenty of space.
Wiretapping laws have also been used to stop people from videotaping police.
These laws don’t usually hold up in court, but you might get arrested
and have to go to court to prove you weren’t violating any laws.
Anytime you’re thinking about videoing the police use common sense and be respectful.