Proposed Arizona bill requires anyone filming police to stand 15ft away

Proposed Arizona bill requires anyone filming police to stand 15ft away
Former police officer John Kavanagh said he had introduced bill to stop citizen video makers from interfering with police work

Arizona’s state legislature is considering a law that would ban citizens from filming police officers from closer than 15ft.

Republican representative John Kavanagh, a former cop, introduced the bill after being approached by officers who said that people filming them were coming too close and interfering with their work.

The bill would affect anyone filming a police officer engaged in “law enforcement activity” without the officer’s permission. A previous version of the bill in 2016 had a 20ft limit.

But civil rights lawyers said the law would probably be struck down in court for violating the American constitution, and in the meantime would chill public oversight of the police.

“My bill is quite reasonable,” Mr Kavanagh vertel Fox 10 Phoenix. “You can film all you want from 15 voete. It’s only when you want to get closer, where you will begin to be a potential threat or a distraction to the officer, that you have to stay away.”

He claimed that the limit would actually help citizens capture evidence against police misconduct, since they would have a broader perspective and be able to see the context around the incident.

"Die civilian video on the George Floyd incident was taken from about 15 aan 20 feet away, and because of that, it captured everybody at the scene and was more useful from an informative and an evidentiary [perspective]," hy het gesê.

Egter, Dan Barr, a lawyer specialising in First Amendment cases, said the bill would have banned a second video of George Floyd that was taken from a closer distance and was crucial to the conviction of Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin.

The American Civil Liberties Union has opposed the bill, arguing that it would simply lead authorities to waste tax dollars trying and failing to defend its constitutionality in court.

Mr Kavanagh’s bill includes a narrow exception for incidents that happen indoors and on private property, where the person filming it has permission to be on the property.

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