It turns out, New Haven cops really didn’t have a clue about photographers’ rights.
But now we know it wasn’t an act.
The New Haven Independent reports that 19 cops sat in class Thursday to learn about a newly released departmental order stating that citizens have the right to record police with their cameras.
The general order doesn’t create a new policy. It has always been legal to record cops.
It just spells it out for the cops who are not versed in basic Constitutional law.
It is the policy of the New Haven Department of Police Service to permit video recording of police activity as long as such recording does not interfere with ongoing police activity or jeopardize the safety of the general public or the police.
Assistant Chief Tobin Hensgen led the class, showing officers the embarrassing videos of themselves that have gone viral on the internet as well as the video produced by the Cato Institute titled Cops on Cameras.
Cops were not only educated on the First Amendment, but the Fourth Amendment as well.
Hensgen noted that cameras can work in cops’ favor—by providing evidence of what citizens do wrong when they’re getting arrested.
After the session an officer asked him if cops have the right to take people’s cameras as evidence in those instances.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from having their cameras seized on the spot, Hensgen said. He suggested the officer ask the citizen photographer for permission to use the video. If the citizen refuses, the officer can take his or her contact information, then seek a warrant for the material.
What are the odds that this class had anything to do with a new bill being introduced in Connecticut that would allow citizens to sue cops who arrest them for videography?