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Can citizens legally take video of police on the job?

Updated: Monday, 12 Mar 2012, 6:58 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 12 Mar 2012, 5:34 PM EDT

Mark Davis

Hartford, Conn. (WTNH) - With high tech gadgets like smartphones and tablets, cameras are everywhere now, and ready to roll.

We're seeing more video of police officers doing their jobs, shot by average citizens, but several highly publicized incidents resulted in some of those average citizens being arrested.

There is word that state lawmakers are again working to make sure that everyone knows the rules.

The now famous video taken by a priest, who was arrested at an East Haven store three years ago, resulted in a federal investigation.

A Quinnipiac student ended up in custody after recording video of an arrest outside Toads Place in New Haven.

During what was called Operation Night Life the New Haven police claimed students at a club called Elevate ignored their orders to put away cell phones.

"There are, unfortunately, a few highly publicized incidents; New Haven, East Haven," said Attorney Sandra Staub, Civil Liberties Union of CT, "where that clearly established right was not recognized and this bill sends that message."

The East Haven incident is the one that originally sparked the proposal to reinforce in state statute that citizens can record what the cops do.

"There's officers and chiefs that don't like the idea, but the bottom line is; it's always been legal to record," said Chief Anthony Salvatore, CT Police Chiefs Association. "...officers or public officials doing their jobs, while they may not like it, as I said, it's always been legal."

However, the Police Chief's Association does want clear lines, police lines if you will, established to protect the victims of crime and evidence they may need to solve crimes.

"We certainly don't want, in some cases, crime scene photographs or information that we're not releasing, to be disseminated on the six o'clock news," said Salvatore.

"This law, I hope, will clarify those rules for individuals and for police officers so everyone knows the rules," said Mario Cerame, righttorecord.org.

Salvatore, whose full time job is Chief of the Cromwell Police Department, says he instructs his officers to act as though they are being recorded all the time





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