Arizona GOPer Wants To Criminalize Filming Within 20 Feet Of Police

January 8, 2016 11:56 a.m.
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Arizona state Sen. John Kavanagh (R) has proposed a bill that would criminalize recording police or police activities within 20 feet without an officer’s express permission, according to a Thursday report from The Arizona Capitol Times.

Kavanagh said Senate Bill 1054 allows citizens to film at 21 feet, which he said is close enough because cameras have improved so much.

“Most cameras have great resolution where you don’t really lose anything when you’re 20 feet away,” he said, according to the Times. “At 20 feet you can pretty much pick up small objects.”

Under Kavanagh’s bill, a first offense would result in a $300 fine while further violations could send offenders to jail for up to six months, according to the Times.

Kavanagh, who is a retired cop and teaches criminal justice courses at a community college, said it was a “distraction” to have someone filming too close to police.

“Having one or more persons suddenly walking up behind and around them with cameras is a distraction,” Kavanagh said. “The officer doesn’t know if this is somebody who’s a friend of the individual he’s doing law enforcement action against or what.”

When confronted about the problems the First Amendment poses for the measure, the lawmaker said an all-out ban on taping police interactions may not be justified.

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