Arizona’s governor has approved a bill that bars civilians from recording video of police officers from a close distance.

The measure — signed Wednesday by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and set to take effect in September — makes it illegal in the state to video police officers eight feet or closer without a cop’s permission. The punishment for flouting the law is a misdemeanor that would likely include a fine but no jail time.

Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh, the bill’s sponsor, said a law is necessary to protect police from those 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 Friday. “It promotes everybody’s safety yet still allows people to reasonably videotape police activity as is their right.”

Kavanagh, who was a police officer for 20 years, tweaked the legislation so it applies to certain types of law-enforcement actions, including the questioning of suspects and encounters involving mental or behavioral health issues.

The law also makes exceptions for people who are the direct subject of police interaction. They are permitted film as long as they are not being arrested or searched. Someone who is in a car stopped by police or is being questioned is also allowed to record the interaction.

 Phoenix Police officers watch protesters rally on June 2, 2020, in Phoenix during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.
Rep. John Kavanagh argues the measure protects the “safety of police officers.”
AP Photo/Matt York, File

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams recently ripped civilians who film NYPD officers arresting alleged lawbreakers from a close distance.

“Stop being on top of my police officers while they’re carrying out their jobs,” Adams said in March. “That is not acceptable and it won’t be tolerated.”

But left-wing and civil rights advocates were up in arms about the law.

“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],” fumed K.M. Bell, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

Mayor Eric Adams speaking about the Summer Rising program at PS/MS 188 at 442 E Houston Street.
Mayor Eric Adams previously demanded New Yorkers to stop annoying NYPD officers.
William Farrington

Stephen Solomon — head of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University — told the Washington Post that a “blanket restriction” amounts to a “violation of the First Amendment.”

“Who’s to say that 8 feet is the appropriate distance? It might be under some circumstances, but in other circumstances, not,” he said to the newspaper, questioning how such a law would be enforced during a situation like a crowded protest.

The rubber stamping of the measures comes about a year after the U.S. Department of Justice began an investigation probe into the police force in Phoenix to determine whether officers have been using excessive force and abusing homeless residents.

It also comes as cellphone videos of cops interacting with the public have in recent years been used as a tool to document police encounters and hold officers who flout the law to account, including the 2020 killing of George Floyd.

With Post wires



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