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Arizona signs law to limit filming of police officers

A new distance law.
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Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law banning knowingly filming police officers within 8 feet without their consent. Breaking the law is a misdemeanor that would likely result in a fine without jail time.

We obtained a copy of the law for you here.

The bill’s sponsor Republican Rep. John Kavanagh said the law will protect police officers from people who “either have very poor judgment or sinister motives.”

“I’m pleased that a very reasonable law that promotes the safety of police officers and those involved in police stops and bystanders has been signed into law,” Kavanagh said. “It promotes everybody’s safety yet still allows people to reasonably videotape police activity as is their right.”

RelatedLawmakers are trying to criminalize filming cops, raising free speech challenges

Kavanagh said that the law was inspired by the anti-police groups who intentionally approached police officers while filming. According to the lawmaker, such kind of filming risked an officer getting injured or a suspect ditching evidence.

The law does not make exceptions for the press.

The law comes amid an investigation launched last year by the DOJ to determine whether Phoenix police officers use excessive force and abuse homeless people. In recent years, the Phoenix Police Department has been criticized for alleged excessive force that disproportionately affects Indigenous peoples and Black Americans.

RelatedNY Mayor Eric Adams says only citizens with upgraded iPhones to film at a distance should document police

Staff attorney at ACLU Arizona KM Bell said that federal appellate courts have ruled that filming the police is “a clearly established right.” He also argued that the law would not work in real-life situations.

“We’re talking about people being in public and a place they have a right to be. We’re not talking about, like somebody breaking into the (National Security Agency),” Bell said.

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