Thursday, May 26, 2022

Arizona bill calls for people with cameras to stay at least 15 feet away from police officers

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Some Arizona lawmakers are looking to change the way people can record police encounters, calling for a distance requirement that anyone with a camera must remain to record a police officer.

The bill is intended to protect the officers as well as provide more context to a potential incident, according to Republican state Rep. John Kavanaugh, a former police officer and the bill’s sponsor.

“My bill is quite reasonable. It says you can film but unless the officer gives you permission, stay 15 feet away,” Kavanaugh said, FOX 10 of Phoenix reported.

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The lawmaker said he has been approached by officers in Tuscon who were concerned that people recording them were getting too close for the officers’ and their own safety.

“You can film all you want from 15 feet. It’s only when you want to get closer where you begin to be a potential threat or distraction to the officer. But you have to stay away unless the officer said it’s OK to come close,” Kavanaugh said, according to the report.

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Citizen videographers can also do their part to provide additional context to a situation by remaining at least 15 feet away, the Republican argued.

Cropped view of police officer
(iStock)

“The civilian video on George Floyd‘s incident was taken from about 15 to 20 feet away. And because of that, it captured everyone at the scene, and it was more [useful] from an informative and evidentiary manner,” Kavanaugh said, FOX 10 reported.

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Critics, however, have said the distance arbitrarily violates a person’s First Amendment rights, because it would penalize violators.

“It’s crazy thinking about that for a second. The video that led to the criminal conviction of the police officer who killed George Floyd would itself be a criminal act. And that makes no sense whatsoever,” attorney Dan Barr told FOX 10. 
 

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