Arizona state House panel passes bill proposing to make recordings of police illegal
An Arizona state House committee on Monday passed a proposed law that would make video recordings within 8 feet of police activity illegal, The Associated Press reports.
The House panel voted 7-5, with no Democratic support, to pass the measure introduced by state Rep. John Kavanagh, which has been criticized by some as a potential violation of constitutional rights.
“We are extremely concerned that this language violates not only the free speech and press clauses of the First Amendment, but also runs counter to the ‘clearly established right’ to photograph and record police officers performing their official duties in a public place,” the National Press Photographers Association, with support of several medial organizations, wrote in a letter in opposition to the bill.
Kavanagh defended the measure, saying the proposed 8-foot distance, which was offered as an amendment, was modeled after a Supreme Court ruling involving abortion protesters.
“I think this fully conforms with constitutionality and weighs officer safety with the citizens’ right, the public’s right, to see law enforcement officers in action,” Kavanagh said.
If signed into law, the bill introduced by Kavanagh would make exceptions for certain situations including those being questioned by police or stopped by police while in a vehicle.
Violators of the proposed law would be charged with a petty offense and be subject to a fine, but would not face jail time.
The state House Rules Committee will now review the bill before it heads to the Arizona House floor, notes the AP.
Video recordings of police have become the subject of increased interest in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020. Video footage of the incident played a crucial role in Chauvin’s conviction and lead to widespread protests worldwide.