New Bill Ensures Your Right to Record Police 3/6/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
March 6, 2013
ODESSA, TX - It's a right protected under the first amendment in the United States Constitution. But one Texas lawmaker is trying to clear up confusion concerning a controversial act that has left many in hot water.
It’s a trend happening across the nation and right here in West Texas. There are cases where citizens take out their phones and cameras to film police while on the job. Then they are arrested.
But the Freedom to Film Act will ensure you're in line with the law to capture officers in action.
Case after case, cell phone and camera videos of officers on duty have made major differences in trails.
“You're not really spying on them. He's a peace officer. He's representing something good. I mean therefore what does he have [sic] to hide," said Odessan Syed Tirmzi.
The Freedom to Film Act will secure your right to document and film police without being harassed.
Criminal attorney Justin Low says that these videos are valuable pieces of evidence to show what really took place.
"Cases like Rodney King’s situations... nobody would of every believed him if it were not caught on camera,” said Criminal Attorney Justin Low.
Low says that it has become so common for people to film that it is second nature for many jurors to see footage during a trial.
"I think they [videos] made major differences in almost any case. Even if there is not a video. Because when you go to jury, jurors are automatically expecting to see a video," said Low.
But some local law enforcement officials say this bill as an extra burden instead of a helpful tool.
"I think what it will do is create more of a havoc. You have people that will file frivolous lawsuits ... that would put trash in the Internet, trash on Facebook," said Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter.
Although filming an officer is not against the law, this new act will clarify and ensure your right to record.
The bill will not provide punishment for officers who do harass citizens. But it does propose compensation for citizens who had to go to trial due to a wrongful arrest.