|Arizona state Sen. John "Wide Angle" Kavanagh|
Arizona state Sen. John Kavanagh has introduced legislation that would require people to be at least 20 feet away while recording “law enforcement activity” or farther if officers decide that’s needed.
Recording inside private buildings such as homes would be allowed from “an adjacent room or area” unless an officer objects.
Violations would be petty offenses or, if a warning is given, misdemeanors carrying up to 30 days in jail.
Kavanagh was once a cop and uses a cop experience to justify the legislation. US News explains:
In the early 1970s, Kavanagh says, he arrested a bandmate of the popular “Mustang Sally” singer at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He had the man against a wall after finding syringes in a clam-shell jewelry case when Pickett approached and politely asked, “Is this gonna take long?” he recalls.What is particularly disturbing about the legislation is that officers on the scene can decide the distance, so it is not at all about 20 feet. And the coppers get to decide about filming in a house.
The next day, the ex-Port Authority cop says, he was told the arrestee tossed a package of heroin behind a television as he looked away.
“I’ll never forget how I was distracted by someone being behind me while I was making an arrest,” he says. “He could have pulled out a gun just as easily and shot me. And now you have people everywhere with these video cameras in their phones who are walking up behind cops when they are making an arrest.”
The ACLU is on the case. US News again:
[T}he bill already is facing stiff opposition and claims of unconstitutionality from the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which recently killed a state revenge-porn law it argued was so poorly written that it would criminalize bathtub baby photos.
The fury of civil liberties advocates caught him off guard, Kavanagh claims. “I’m actually shocked that the ACLU opposes this,” he says.In his claim of shock at ACLU objections, Kavanagh distorts the power of the bill;
Although the bill says explicitly it does not establish a right to film police, its author says it “kind of establishes if it’s reasonable and there’s no other factors present, someone can tape from 20 feet. So I don’t know what their problem is, especially since you get a better, wider view of the scene and can zoom in as though you were a foot away.”-RW