Senate Rules Committee to determine Constitutionality of police recording prohibition bill

Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 21:17:09-04

PHOENIX — A bill making it illegal to record the public actions of police from a distance less than eight feet away is expected to be debated on the floor of the State Senate next week.

Opponents say HB2319 is unconstitutional. But that has not stopped it from moving first through the House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Citizen use of cell phone cameras to record police conduct is commonplace.

Recently, video of Phoenix Police Officers confronting four men during a stolen car investigation surface when one of the officers struck a 13-year-old girl after she failed to comply with police requests to move back.

"This bill does not stop anybody from getting a good picture," said State Representative John Kavanagh (R ) Fountain Hills District 23, who is the author of the bill. "My bill balances the need to protect police officers from danger and preserve evidence from being destroyed or discarded with the constitutional right of people to film police officers performing their duties."

Kavanagh made changes to the bill, reducing the distance someone can record police from 15 to eight feet. His bill now allows a person to video record their own police encounter and if someone is a passenger in a vehicle pulled over by police to record the interaction between the officer and driver.

"While we do appreciate the sponsor trying to make changes to address the constitutional concerns, alas it is still an unconstitutional limitation on the very clearly established first amendment right of members of the public's right to record police" said K.M. Bell, a strategist for the ACLU's Smart Justice Campaign.

The bill goes before the Senate Rules Committee Monday to decide whether its constitutional. If it's decided the bill is Constitutional, the full Senate will vote on it later in the week.

E.W. Scripps, ABC15's parent company, signed onto a letter by the National Press Photographers Association opposing the bill.