ACLU-NCA Demands D.C. Police Respect Rights of PhotographersNovember 19, 2010
In a letter to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, the ACLU-NCA has demanded that the D.C. Police respect the rights of individuals to take photographs and make sound recordings of public events in public places – especially police activity.
We represent Jerome Vorus, a young man who was detained by D.C. police and ordered to stop photographing and recording public police activity in Georgetown last summer. He was not interfering with the police in any way. Several officers nevertheless told him that he could not photograph or record them without their permission. And even the Commander of the Second Police District told the Washington Post that the officers acted appropriately.
Police officers’ beliefs that their public actions are somehow shielded from public scrutiny is a false but widespread and growing problem. Perhaps the problem is growing because more and more people are now carrying cell phones and PDAs that can take photographs, videos, and sound recordings of police conduct at any moment. But that is a development that holds great promise for increasing police accountability, and it’s important to teach the police that they must respect it.