A candidate for the governor of New York, Randy Credico, was recently arrested, handcuffed, and jailed for taking footage of an overly aggressive arrest. This comes just days after the NYPD sent out a memo telling police officers that recording the police is legal.
Recording the police may be legal, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. It’s like so many other points of law. It is technically legal for you to refuse to take a sobriety test. It’s technically legal for you to refuse a search or to tell the police they can’t enter your home. But it sure doesn’t feel like it.
If you do any of these things, you will be treated like a criminal. Just like Randy Credico. Police know you know this. That’s why they use intimidation tactics, even lies, to try to get you to stop recording the police and submit to any and every search and test they might ask of you. “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide.”
Well, let’s go ahead and turn that one right around on the police. If you are recording the police, which it seems should be the norm rather than the exception at this point, and they harass you about it, just tell them, as many times as is necessary: “If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide.” I’m sure they’ll like that a whole lot.
If you want some tips on recording the police, read this helpful article. Interestingly, one of the major bullet points is “Prepare to be arrested”:
With respect to the law [activist Dave] Ridley declares, “If you’re rolling the camera, be very open and upfront about it. And look at it as a potential act of civil disobedience for which you could go to jail.” It’s indeed disturbing that citizens who are not breaking the law should prepare to be arrested, but in the current legal fog this is sage advice.
In other words, recording the police is not a crime, but it sure feels like it.