North Charleston cop Slager shooting man in back

Ten Rules for Recording Cops and other Authority Figures (UPDATED)

UPDATE (April 9, 2015): Two years ago, we published the Ten Rules for Recording Cops at a time when many more citizens were becoming aware of their right to record cops and more cops were doing all they can to violate those rights.

Today, even more citizens are learning their rights but many cops haven’t allowed that fact to curb their abusive tactics against citizens.

In the latest story that is being reported widely, a South Carolina man video recorded North Charleston police officer Michael Slager shooting a man named Walter Scott in the back, only to claim that Scott had taken his taser and tried to use it against him.

The man who recorded the video, Feidin Santana, did everything correctly, from holding his phone horizontally to remaining quiet through the whole incident, allowing him to capture the truth without distracting the cops or allowing them to realize they were being recorded, even though at one point, it seems as if they looked towards him.

After all, had he recorded the incident with his phone in the vertical position, he would not have captured both Slager and Scott in a single frame, which would have given police reason to continue spinning the story in their favor.

Here is his video interview with NBC News. We are trying to contact him as him to conduct our own interview and perhaps bring him on the PINAC Team.

My book on citizen journalism has since been published. It can be purchased here.

Please leave a review if you have read the book.

Below is this article how it appeared  in 2013. CM



10 Rules for Recording Cops and other Authority Figures

Citizen Journalism cover

For the first time in history, we, the people, have true freedom of the press where it is no longer restricted to those who own the press.

And that’s not a bad thing considering the majority of news companies in this country are owned by a handful of corporations that have been consistently downsizing newsrooms, if not entirely slashing news departments as was the case with the Chicago Sun-Times last month when it fired its entire photography department, leaving the nation’s ninth largest newspaper dependent on reporters with iPhones to fill the void.

Thankfully, the First Amendment guarantees us all Freedom of the Press, meaning we have as much as right to to report on and disseminate the news as professional journalists, even if we’ve never set foot in a newsroom. In fact, it’s absolutely crucial that we step up to fill the void left by the mainstream media.

And we can begin doing that by recording police when they interact with the public,  including our very own interactions such as traffic stops. The goal is to not just record possible instances of police abuse, but to remind these officers that we are well aware of our rights to record them in public where they have no expectation of privacy (as they do to us).

After all, it is very clear that many of them don’t know we have that right or most likely would like to convince us we don’t have that right, even though numerous court decisions state otherwise, including the landmark Glik vs Boston decision that specifically stated that Freedom of the Press was guaranteed to all citizens.

The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. Houchins, 438 U.S. at 16 (Stewart, J., concurring) (noting that the Constitution “assure[s] the public and the press equal access once government has opened its doors”); Branzburg, 408 U.S. at 684 (“[T]he First Amendment does not guarantee the press a constitutional right of special access to information not available to the public generally.”).

The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

Beau McCarthy of Cop Block exercising his First Amendment right to record police (Photo by Ademo Freeman).

The following are ten basic rules I’ve compiled to help citizens better understand their rights and to become better citizen journalists. These are just general guidelines and should not be considered legal advice as I am not a lawyer.

I am, however, a veteran journalist who spent almost ten years covering the cop beat for newspapers before launching this blog six years ago. And I have been arrested three times for photographing cops on a multitude of charges without a single conviction, except for one I had reversed on appeal where I represented myself.

I also have a book coming out next year on citizen journalism as you can see in the image above, which I will be writing over the summer.

So this is a topic I hope to frequent more often on my blog in the hopes of educating, encouraging and inspiring citizens to become part of the Fifth Estate, which is journalism of the people, by the people and for the people.


1. Learn to hold the camera: If you’re serious about citizen journalism, I recommend investing in a camera other than what you have on your Smartphone. You want something that produces high-quality video and records clear audio but that is small enough to carry with you wherever you go. Something that not only is able to record in low-light but also able to zoom in when cops force you to back up. A camera that records quality video as well as quality audio. Probably something with an external microphone jack even if you don’t believe you’ll ever use it.

Technology is advancing so fast that it would be pointless to make any recommendations, but it’s easy to conduct research on the internet to find a camera within your budget.

Citizens in Boulder, Colorado using their smart phones to photograph President Barack Obama - Photo by Chris Carruth
There is a right way and a wrong way to record on your smartphone and both ways are demonstrated here as citizens in Boulder, Colorado attempt to record President Barack Obama (Photo by Chris Carruth)

If you absolutely must shoot video with your smartphone, then please, for the love of God, hold the phone horizontally so your videos come out horizontally. While it may be easier to hold the camera in the vertical position, you end up with a video that uses only a third of the available screen sandwiched by two black lines.

Holding the phone horizontally usually requires the use of two hands, which usually guarantees a more stable video. Even if you’re not using a smartphone, it is recommended to hold the camera with both hands to prevent camera shake as much as possible.

The best thing to do is practice shooting video whenever you can, including of your friends, families and pets, even if you just end up deleting the video, because you want to be prepared when it is absolutely necessary to record.

You don’t want to mistakenly have your fingers over the microphone or think you’re recording when you’ve actually stopped recording.

The one advantage smartphones have over other cameras is that you can use livestreaming apps like Bambuser, Qik and Ustream to protect your footage in case your camera gets confiscated.

The disadvantages is that if police do confiscate your phone, then you’re not only out of a camera but a phone, which in many cases, is our lifeline to the world.

Legally, police can only confiscate your camera under exigent circumstances, which I will explain further down.

2. Keep your mouth shut

We’ve all seen the videos of cops violently arresting somebody, only for the person holding the camera to be shrieking hysterically that they’re pigs or that they’re going to end up on Youtube or that the person they’re arresting didn’t do anything illegal.

Keep in mind that your mouth is closer to the microphone than anybody else’s mouth, so your voice is going to be magnified as it drowns out the relevant audio that needs to be captured.

However, don’t be afraid to inform viewers of what exactly is taking place on camera. Speak clearly and stick to the facts because you want the viewer to form their own opinion of what is taking place. But it’s more important to capture what is taking place so make that your priority.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Many cop-watching activists will tell you not to talk to police when they confront you but if you want to be a journalist, you’re going to have to learn to ask the right questions. But do so after they make their arrest so they won’t accuse you of interfering. And be professional about it. If they decide to be unprofessional, just keep the camera turned on them to expose them.

You’ll want to stick to the Five W’s, the who, what, when, where and why, which are the basic elements of journalism interviewing. This also helps in you controlling the dialogue rather than the cop controlling the dialogue. Don’t let the badge intimidate you.

Most of the time, they will refer you to a public information officer who may or may not show up on the scene, so ask for that officer’s name and phone number, even if you don’t plan to call it because it’s good to get into the habit of talking professionally with cops.

Although you are not required to hand over your identification if asked, unless you are suspected of committing a crime (more on this later), it doesn’t hurt to tell them your name and where you plan to post the video.

Remember, you need to think of yourself as a journalist, not an activist. Journalists should have no problem identifying themselves.

4. Learn the laws about public property

Nobody has an expectation of privacy in public, which is why you’re allowed to record cops, paramedics, suspects and victims as long as they are in full view of the public. If you can see them, you can record them.

But you don’t want to end up arrested for some unrelated matter just because the cop is looking for an excuse to keep you from recording. This can easily happen if you are standing on the street as opposed to the sidewalk or getting too close to police where you end up physically interfering with their investigation.

Sometimes police will threaten to arrest you for blocking pedestrian traffic if you are standing on the sidewalk, but I have yet to read an actual statute that describes this offense. Not saying it doesn’t exist but I didn’t see it in the Florida and New York statutes.

Or sometimes they will threaten to arrest you for loitering, which is also reaching because these laws usually pertain to private property or when a person is idling about on public property for an apparent reason except no good such as in areas with heavy prostitution or drug use.

But if you are recording police, then you have a very justifiable reason to stand on the sidewalk. So justifiable that it is protected by the First Amendment.

Sometimes, the best way to handle these cops is to ask them where exactly would they like you to stand to gauge just how reasonable a cop you are dealing with.

There is never a guarantee that you won’t be arrested, but you can minimize those chances by informing the officer you know your rights while continuing to record.

5. Learn the laws about private property

Nobody has an expectation of privacy when they are on private property that is open to the general public like a shopping mall, office building, local bar or a storefront parking lot.

People generally have an expectation of privacy when they are inside their homes, unless they happen to be standing by an open door or clear window where anybody walking by can see them.

For journalistic purposes, we will stick to the former in this section because it’s probably not the wisest decision to begin recording cops through their windows while they are home and off-duty (unless you have a very good reason to do so).

Business owners or private security guards have every right to forbid you from recording on their premises, even if they are recording you with security cameras as is usually the case.

But they have no right to force you to delete your footage or confiscate your camera. The worst they can do is order you to leave the premises. And if you refuse, they can have you arrested for trespassing.

6. Learn the laws about government-operated facilities

Generally speaking, this is considered the same as public property because these are tax-funded facilities, but many of these facilities can have their own policies that you need to research beforehand just to be sure.

One of the biggest problems has been government-owned train stations where police are under the impression that they are protecting the country from terrorism by forbidding citizens from recording, but most of these train stations allow photography as long as you are not shooting for commercial purposes, which generally means advertising. Journalism is considered editorial photography and protected under the First Amendment.

The New York subway system allows photography but forbids the use of light, tripods and reflectors because it could impede foot traffic and I imagine other train stations have similar policies, but do your own research just to be sure.

Photography is also allowed on public universities, Transportation Security Administration checkpoints and inside municipal buildings if you are recording your personal business.

Jeff Gray getting chased out by cops in Coral Gables for making a public records request at a private company in 2013. Photo by Carlos Miller.

And yes, even in the lobbies of police departments, but you need to thread carefully here because they may arrest you nonetheless or they may have their own policies in place that are not part of the state law.


The best way to avoid getting arrested is to remain professional and to state an actual purpose to record inside a police department other than just doing because you can, such as making public records requests or filing a complaint against an officer. Just tell them you are conducting official business with a government agency and you insist on getting it on the record.

However, rules and laws vary inside courthouses with federal courthouses not allowing you to even walk inside with a camera, let alone use one inside, and state and local courts having rules that apply mainly to actual courtrooms, not necessarily the corridors or offices inside the courthouse.

Again, this is something you would have to research depending on what state or county you live in, but it’s something that can usually be done with a few key strokes on Google.

The truth is, the laws haven’t caught up with technology yet so it’s up to us to set the standard before they start trying to set the standard, so we can ensure the government remains as transparent as possible.

7. Learn your state’s wiretapping laws 

It wasn’t too long ago that police throughout the United States were routinely using state wiretapping laws to arrest people for recording them in public, which is not what those laws were intended for when they were created.

The cops had realized that citizens were catching on to the fact that photography is not a crime, so they started arresting people based on the audio recordings the citizens captured. The issue came to a boiling point in Illinois that had a Draconian eavesdropping law in the books that had several citizens facing lengthly prison sentences because they had recorded cops in public who were on duty. The Illinois law has been ruled unconstitutional, so police are not allowed to arrest anybody for it.

So right now, it is legal to audio record cops in public in all 50 states because they do not have an expectation of privacy.

Massachusetts has a slight exception where citizens are not allowed to secretly record cops in public, but even that law has been questioned by a prosecutor in that state and it is probably ripe for a challenge (just in case you’re up for it).

As a citizen journalist, you should always strive to make it obvious you are recording anyway because  the point is to send a message to cops you know your right.

However, if you find yourself becoming the victim of police abuse and know that it would probably be dangerous to pull out your camera and start record, don’t hesitate to start secretly recording, even if you live in Massachusetts.

Click on this link to read up on your state’s wiretapping or eavesdropping laws.

8. Learn how to handle police intimidation

No matter how much you think you have prepared yourself, it can get downright nerve-racking when a hulking cop stands over you with a badge, gun, handcuffs, taser gun and pepper spray, ordering you to hand over your identification and/or your camera.

But you need to think of yourself as a journalist not an activist. You are there to do a job, even if you are not getting paid for it. And once you build a Youtube following, you could easily start collecting regular checks from Google Adsense, so it’s important to think of yourself as a professional.

They will usually demand your identification, but federal case law states that they must have reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime (or are about to) in order to require you to hand over your identification.

However, different states have varying “stop-and-identify” laws that make it a crime to not identify yourself if you are being detained for some perceived crime. Usually, it is permissible to verbally identify yourself instead of pulling out your identification, so I recommend just stating your name and handing them your business card if you have one, just out of professional courtesy, not because you are required by law.

Ohio cops
Austintown PD in Ohio execute an illegal arrest of a Citizen Journalist after demanding ID without probable cause in March 2015.

If they insist on seeing your identification, ask them what crime do they suspect you of committing. Recording police is not a crime, so they need to be more specific about an actual being broken.

Sometimes cops will order you to delete your footage because they believe you have violated their privacy or the privacy of a suspect or a victim, but you are under no legal obligation to delete your footage. As stated before, nobody has an expectation of privacy in public. Not even the president.

Sometimes they try to confiscate your camera as “evidence” of a crime, but in most circumstances, the camera would had to have been used in the commission of a crime such as child pornography or upskirting.

If the camera was not used in the commission of a crime but they believe it contains evidence to a crime, then police would need to obtain a subpoena or warrant in order to obtain it. The only exception would be what the law refers to as “exigent circumstances,” which would be if they have a strong suspicion that you are going to delete the footage or disappear to the point where they won’t be able to deliver you a subpoena.

If you have recorded footage that you believe will help police solve the crime, perhaps you might not have a problem sharing your footage, but please do not give up the original footage. And post online anything you have shared with them in order to remain transparent.

Even the mainstream media will not share their footage without first going through their lawyers and even then, they would probably air it before giving police the same footage they have already shared with their viewers.

So I would recommend doing the same, but only if you feel inclined to because you are under no obligation to assist them with their investigation.

New York City police clash with photographers during a protest (Photo by Paul Weiskel)
New York City police clash with photographers during a protest (Photo by Paul Weiskel)

If you are jailed, you must remain calm. Do not get into arguments with the cops because at that point, you’re already lost the battle, so you need to be thinking ahead at how you’re going to win the war.

Pay attention to all the cops dealing with your arrest, handling your camera. Read their name tags and memorize their names, faces and ranks. Figure out who is the commanding officer. Listen to their conversation, read their body language, pick up on cues that they are trying to figure out what to charge you with because there is no law in the books that forbids you from recording in public.

You might want to remind them that deleting footage is a crime, spoliation of evidence, if you want to be legal about it. Destruction of evidence if you want to keep it in layman’s terms. Or you just may want to remain quiet.

If they delete your footage, keep in mind that you can eventually recover it as long as you don’t override the deleted footage by recording over it.The program I recommend is Photo Rec, which is free, but a little complex. There are other programs out there as well that are more simple to use but do not do such a great job in recovering entire video clips.

9. Remain ethical and transparent 

Our mission is to hold police accountable, so we must hold ourselves accountable to the fundamental ethics of journalism. It doesn’t mean we have to be like the mainstream media and remain blindly “objective” to the point where we can’t just come out and say the cops were being abusive.

We are allowed to give our opinion. In fact, we are encouraged to give our opinion but we must not let this get in the way of presenting the facts and allowing our followers to form their own opinions.

And we should allow these followers to state their opinions through comments without blocking, banning or deleting their comments as long as they keep their comments civil. It’s up to you to set the standards on your own blog or Youtube account, but it’s not journalism if you insist on preaching to the choir.

10. Learn to edit video 

If you want your video to go viral, you need to keep it short and concise.

People on the internet don’t have time to sit through a ten minute video. In fact, most people will probably not make it this far down in this article, so imagine them trying to sit through a video where nothing is happening waiting for something exciting to happen.

Writers use the phrase, “kill your babies,” when they edit their stories, which means to delete the portions that they find interesting but in reality, do nothing to move the story forward. Apply the same logic to video editing.

A general rule would be to keep it under three minutes. If you have an exceptionally interesting video, then extend it to five minutes.

If you absolutely are compelled to make the video longer because you believe it is necessary to tell the entire story, then try to produce a shorter version but don’t be surprised if the shorter version ends up with more views.

Also, try to include the basic information in the headline and description of the video. The five W’s as described above. Or at least a link to an article that provides more background.

It also helps if you include captions during certain scenes to provide more information, but try to keep them at the bottom of the screen and keep them up long enough so viewers can read them.

And please, no matter how cool you think it may sound, do not add music to the video.

Just because you are a huge heavy metal or hip hop fan doesn’t mean the people viewing the video will be. External music can be very distracting. Especially when it’s something people are not familiar with.

Remember, you are producing journalism, not music videos.


Here are some links that can further help you understand your rights as a citizen journalist.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice last year drafted a set of guidelines that police departments are expected to abide by when dealing with citizens who record them in public. It would be worth printing out and carrying in your camera bag in case you come across police officers who are unaware of the law.
  • The National Press Photographers Association regularly comes to the defense of citizens arrested for recording in public, even if they are not members. At $110 a year for membership ($65 for students), they have a lot to offer.
  • The Digital Media Law Project, founded by Harvard University, also provides legal guidance and education to citizen journalists.
  • The Photographer’s Right is a set of legal guidelines compiled by Oregon attorney Bert Krages, who also wrote a book called the Legal Handbook for Photographers.
  • The ACLU published Know Your Rights: Photographers, which is also a good guide.

Geo’s Video Guide is a short manual on how to shoot news video written by Geo Rodriguez, a South Florida Sun Sentinel print reporter who was forced to learn how to shoot video in 2008 when his beat was getting eliminated during cutbacks and layoffs, and found himself traveling the country in 2010 to different newspapers to teach reporters how it’s done.

He will be profiled in my book.

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” A.J. Liebling

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • JustaVetSailorfromPennsylvania

    Your 10 points are Most professional and Great advice

  • Proud GrandPa

    Thank you for posting this commonsense advice. Several times you gave the right advice, which several of us have been advocating to our more radical members. You advised to identify yourself to the police and to state your reasons for recording. These simple and courteous expedients show respect for our police officers, allay their fears, and create trust. The result is that we give law enforcement no reason to stop us. In fact they may help us and the whole journalistic enterprise benefits.
    I think this is an example of applying the Golden Rule to the police. It is only common courtesy and respectful… that is the American Way.

  • juan santana

    thank you its about time lol

  • Tyler

    I can’t wait to see the book; expect one sale here!

  • Phred

    Good stuff, Carlos. Any suggestions for software that automatically uploads images to the Internet, in case the cops try to delete your recording? Also, you didn’t mention using the lock feature on your phone that prevents anyone but you from accessing its contents. Even if they confiscate it, they won’t be able to get to your recordings, or to anything else, without the pass code.

  • silly

    I would like to make a business card template to share with this forum that reads something to the effect of:

    “Photography is not a Crime. However, interfering with my 1st Amendment Rights is actionable under federal law. 42 USC 1983”

    Can some of the smarter folks here point me directly to the appropriate federal statues to reference on this card? I’ll provide a template for taking to the printer…

    • Difdi

      Like quite a few unlawful acts, violating rights is both a matter of civil law and criminal law. It’s not just possible for a corrupt public official to be sued, they could be arrested and jailed under 18USC242. Granted, it rarely happens, but that doesn’t mean it can’t.

      • tiny

        DIFDI: your wrong, WE have been allowing them to get away with a lot of crap, fact is, if public official acts outside what they are authorized to do, they are no longer immune from anything, civil and or criminal charges! [case in point, you go their office, they dont like your nose, they punch you, and break your nose. do they have immunity? of course not!] who the hell came up with this crap about a CORRUPT PUBLIC OFFICIAL not being liable in a court and the case being CIVIL in nature, not criminal. throw em all in jail, then sue for anything they got left, and then take it all, their freedom and possessions!

        • ExCop-Lawyer

          IIRC, it was the Warren Court that came up with qualified immunity.

          Since they are all dead, suing won’t do much good.

        • Difdi

          Perhaps you should have read what I wrote BEFORE spewing irate nonsense about how I am “wrong”. If you had actually read my post, you’d know that everything you wrote after “DIFDI: your wrong” was a complete AGREEMENT with everything I said in my post.

          As it is, you look pretty stupid.

  • JdL

    Excellent, Carlos.

    Technology is advancing so fast that it would be pointless to make any recommendations,

    I understand that this is a moving target, but what would you recommend to someone buying TODAY? I just might.

    • tiny

      easy answer, buy a AW100 from NIKON, dont have to worry about dropping it, even into the pool. i have owned one for a few months, the newer model is the AW110 i believe, it has blue-tooth.

      • tiny

        well, my point is, get a P/S. they easy to use, cost most of the time is not an issue and the quality is HDMI and above, wifi comes with some of the newer P&S. get one and be happy! and dont forget to post it here!

    • Carlos_Miller

      I’ve been experimenting with a Canon EOS M mirrorless camera and I like it because it gives me DSLR quality photos with a point-and-shoot size camera, but for journalistic purposes, it is still lacking because it can be slow to focus.

      I do think mirrorless cameras will eventually be the way to go for photojournalism. They are just not there yet.

      I don’t have enough experience with other cameras on the market to provide a valid recommendation.

  • ExCop-Lawyer

    I would add only one item. Federal law (43 USC 2000aa) protects your work product from seizure either on the scene or by warrant if you intend to distribute it to the public. They can only obtain it with a subpoena, which means in those cases it makes sense to provide them with identifying information.

  • jackassletters

    I disagree with this statement: “If you’re serious about citizen journalism, I recommend investing in a camera other than what you have on your Smartphone.” I just finished a job where I managed the fleet phones for 100+ news reporters. Journalisms schools now require students to have smart phones. The camera on these things are generally better than “good enough.” Feature films have been shot on iPhones. The quality is high.

    Are you going to start a kickstarter project to fund the book? I would also suggest seeing if you couldn’t run the whole thing past someone who is a lawyer. It would be nice to have some legal views in here as well.

    • Carlos_Miller

      I’m not self-publishing but working with a publisher. I’ll be writing more in the next few days but yes, there will be a section dedicated to legal stuff, which will be based on interviews with lawyers.

      • jackassletters

        Ok, sounds even better! I was just thinking you are sponsored by a lawyer. You should be able to find some that can vet the manuscript. Glad this is going to happen!

    • Carlos_Miller

      Smartphones do the job but I still recommend investing in a camera and using the smartphone as a back-up.

      • jackassletters

        My sense of irony is tickled a bit by the fact that we’re having a debate about what best photography tools to put into the hands of amateurs so they can produce journalism. I lived through this debate for writers. Even 7 years ago the idea of a professional photographer starting a writing blog would have met derision.

        I think a good camera is the way to go, just not for most people. Most people won’t put the time into it to learn the craft. Also, most will buy shitty cameras that won’t survive standard abuse. A plastic body camera is crap. Stepping up into quality is still cost prohibitive in my opinion, as is the learning curve.

        A smart phone is at hand.

        I’m not really arguing, because I am not saying you are incorrect. I just believe differently. I would also suggest you may be biased. A professional photographer suggesting a pro-camera? Shocking! My thoughts was just for your audience would be better served with a smart phone, since it’s what they will already know and have.

        • Flashing Scotsman

          I agree that the best camera is the one you have with you, and most of us carry our phone with us. If you’re going out with the intention of shooting something, I would suggest taking something better.

          On another note, a Canon 60d is crap? Because of a plastic body? With the level of development in plastics recently, I see no reason to pay extra money for a metal body.

          • jackassletters

            I guess I would want to see a drop test on the 60d, but I worked with a lot of professional photographers over the years and every single plastic one they’ve used is beat to crap within a year.

    • Phillip D Breske

      “Feature films have been shot on iPhones.” True, but the iPhone was attached to an adapter that allowed the use of a real cinema lens, professional sound recording equipment, and, usually, a small Steadicam-like device to reduce the shaking common to such a lightweight device. Also, the “feature films” you alluded to were not hundred-million dollar productions, but very low budget indie films or documentaries, and even then they were usually doing it as a publicity stunt: “Hey, we made our film with an iPhone! Come see it!”

      Some iPhone videos can be made that are very high quality, but only when the user is in perfect conditions and can fully concentrate on making the video. When you’re trying to keep from getting arrested (or worse) you can’t think about whether the video is too shaky for the audience.

      I bought a reconditioned Canon HD camcorder with an optically-stabilized 52x lens on eBay for $150. The picture quality is outstanding and certainly better than ANY iPhone. It can record WHILE I use my iPhone to make a phone call, and doesn’t suffer the same rolling shutter effects that reduce so many cell phone videos to unwatchable junk.

    • Katherine Walton

      The quality isn’t that high, and most of the shooters are substandard. I suggest that most people learn the meaning of shooting a sequence, whatever their equipment. Having just, a few hours ago, watched the raw video of an AP still guy, (who is an *excellent* still photographer) I’m here to tell you that having the means doesn’t mean you can achieve the end. Also, everything that Phillip D Breske posted above. Disagree all you want; there actually *is* a standard of quality, and iPhones ain’t it.

      • jackassletters

        Covers of the New Yorker and plenty of videos disagree with you. As do many newsrooms: Remember, Gannett didn’t fire their photo staff either.

        I’m not arguing against the use of pro-level cameras, but this is a book for citizen journalists, not professional photographers.

        I know plenty of photo professionals, including one Pulitzer winner than use iPhones to shoot video. It’s a tool. I think it’s a better tool for your average person. If you are willing to put the time into learning a pro-camera, go for it.

      • Phred

        To me, the issue isn’t the equipment as much as it is people who don’t know how to use it. It helps to know how to frame a scene properly, how to pan and zoom (and when), and how to simply hold a camera with something approaching a steady hand. And Carlos is absolutely right about holding phone cameras horizontally (landscape format). They should never be help upright when recording video.

    • Jon Quimbly

      Bureaucrats deciding that iPhones are the equivalent of the professional DSLR are just looking for any excuse to slash another photography department, like what happened in Chicago.

      The most you can say is, they both take pictures. I’d love to hear about the amazing telephoto shot of the center dunking it at last night’s game -taken with a iPhone. Or, the compromising picture taken of Lindsay Lohan from down the block. The best you can get is a non time-critical of something happening nearby.

      iPhones lack the most basic improvements to cameras over the last century: shutter, aperture, changeable optics. Sure, you can strap on a tele aapter, but still gonna have to pass thru the iPhone’s crappy optics.

      • Voice-Of-Concern

        While iPhones are not an ideal solution, some Android devices are worth a look. Specifically the Samsung Android Camera line.

      • jackassletters

        Except you are ignoring the fact that a lot of these professionals are also using smart phones. Covers of the New Yorker have been shot with iPhones.

        The video these things produce are better than the professional cameras filed reporters were using even 5 years ago.

        The best camera is the one you have with you. I never pretended they were the same, but I would say handing a random guy a smart phone is going to produce better results than handing a random guy a pro-camera.

        • Carlos_Miller

          The best camera is the one you have, which is why it’s best to carry the best camera you can afford.

          Smartphones produce great pictures and videos if you are close enough to your subject and you have adequate light but that might not always be the case.

          Plus, if they confiscate your phone, you are not only out a camera but a phone as well, meaning you can’t call anybody like a lawyer or a friend or a journalist to let them know what’s going on.

          But smartphones also have advantages over conventional cameras in that you can use livestreaming apps.

          Smartphones are better used for back-up cameras where you can stick them in your pocket and record while using your primary camera to also record.

      • Saul B

        Jon, I bow before thee and thy 1200mm lens.

        How dare anyone holding anything less call themselves a photographer.

  • Dan Matthews

    Carlos, for those of us considering coming up with a press card of some sort, would you allow the statement, “the holder of this card is a contributing member of PINAC.” I’m not sure wha it would mean to a LEO, but it would lend credence to the fact that the holder is a recognized news gatherer.

    • Difdi

      I’ve suggested this several times in the past.

    • Carlos_Miller

      Yes, I’ve been meaning to offer PINAC press passes, which I will hopefully do soon.

      Yes, tell them you’re representing PINAC.

      A press pass has no legal bearing but many times, it satisfies the cops.

      • Katherine Walton

        If you do, I’ll take one! And brandish it proudly! :)

        • tiny

          yes, sign my copy also, please. :)

      • Jeffrey Marcus Gray

        When I buy my copy can I get it autographed? (The book )

      • tiny

        it may have no legal bearing, your right. so tell me, when those cops that stump all over our rights, legal or whatever, when do they ever care about “legal bearing” at any level, etc. the word legal is, i think, not even in the dictionary that they have at home, and i am sure read every night before they tuck that 44mag under the pillow. i think a “press badge” would be a very good idea, anything i can do to help get this done, please do not hesitate. as i as sure there are a few others that feel the same way as i do.

    • Katherine Walton

      You might consider applying for a press credential from your state or local law enforcement entity. No, I’m not kidding :). I started to freelance back in 1990, and obtained credentials from the California Highway Patrol and from several cities in the SF Bay Area.

      • Carlos_Miller

        Most law enforcement agencies are doing away with the credential system. CHP did a few years ago I still have mine from 1999.

        • Katherine Walton

          SFPD still issues theirs, as does SJPD. Haven’t asked for one from Sacramento for a while, so I’ll look into it. I have my San Francisco Press Photographers Association cred, which seems to be good all over the SF Bay Area. Plus my NBC and CNN creds. Haven’t even asked for a CHP cred in quite a few years. I’ll look into that, too.

          • Tony Loro

            CHP ended it a few years ago.

  • Jon Quimbly

    Bravo, Carlos. (It takes a year to publish a book?)

    Two things:
    1. Hire a copy editor! Your writings are meaningful and important, but grammar, punctuation and clarity are not your strong suit.

    2. Hire a fact-checker. For example, sometimes you make sweeping generalizations, “police throughout the United States were routinely using state wiretapping laws to arrest people” -is this really true? How many states, departments and cases? It’s very possible to undermine the intent of your work by using unsubstantiated rhetoric.

    Unless you’re going for the blaring activists’ edge, in which case good luck.

    • Carlos_Miller

      I have a publisher and editor. I will be writing about it all in the next few days.

      • tiny

        if ya need a proof reader, let me know. free no charge! bro! [oh heck, google it. LOL]

  • miamitom

    Excellent article Carlos!

  • the sage

    Thanks for this. Learning a lot on this site.

  • scruffylookingnerfherder

    #5 If there is a “no photography” sign in a mall or store, they can arrest immediately if you are recording while on private property.

    They might offer to not arrest if you delete the footage. In this case, you should weigh the alternatives very carefully!

    • Carlos_Miller

      I don’t know about that. If there is a sign that says “no food or drink allowed,” can they arrest you for that or just kick you out?

      • scruffylookingnerfherder

        An example, here the liquor establishments have to post a no firearms sign, even though firearms are allowed in public. The signs state that if you have a firearm, you are guilty. I believe signs forbidding photography would have the same effect as no trespassing. You have been previously told you are not allowed on the premises.

        So, yes, like a no food and drink rule, I would bet that it can be enforced. It’s just that nobody would dare the backlash of arresting someone for bringing in a soda.

        • Carlos_Miller

          But what is the guarantee that somebody will read the sign?

          Maybe if you have them sign a document stating they understand the rules, then it could lead to grounds for arrest, which is along the lines of them giving you a trespassing warning, allowing you to leave, before they can arrest you.

    • Katherine Walton

      In California, if you are in the public area of a mall, it is considered “public” according to case law. This also applies to all areas open to the public, including parking lots at hospitals, for example.

    • bob cooley

      They can’t arrest – Malls employ private security, not the police. Security can escort you from the premises or call the police, who will also simply escort you from the premises, unless you escalate, in which case you will likely get arrested.

      If private security tries to detain or hold you by taking you to their ‘offices’ – politely refuse and insist they they release you or that they call the state police, and you will be happy to wait right there with them for the police to arrive. At this point they will likely walk you to the door and tell you not to come back – if they do call the police, inform them (the police) that you asked for their assistance so that you would not be improperly detained by private security, as you’ve committed no criminal act.

      You also can’t be forced to erase footage. If you post footage that is illegally obtained, you may be opening yourself to a civil suit, but that’s not a criminal matter.

  • Katherine Walton

    Carlos, thanks for this. Especially for #1! :)

  • ibanix

    This is the best post I’ve ever seen on PINAC. Well done.

  • ibanix

    It would be useful if the book included examples of when/where users can /NOT/ photograph. Negative examples are as useful as positive ones.

  • tt_tiara

    I think this is a fascinating story about drug use on the Boston Police Department. However, if someone is an illicit drug user perhaps they do not want to attract attention to themselves by criticizing police for drug use.
    Link >>>

  • bj

    Catchy cover and format.

    I look forward to reading.

    Well done Carlos.

  • Photog at Large

    Really appreciate this site and input/info by other posters. Being able to cite actual cases is nice, and have printed info to carry with camera equip and in vehicles.

  • guest

    I could do without the red fist on the cover. It looks like some kind of black power, or communist logo.

    • Lefim

      How about a hand shaped like a fist clutching a camera?

  • Rupert Ferguson

    Thanks for sharing all this! These are facts that every activist should know!

  • EyeOnFremont

    Carlos, I’m interested in your recommendation on whether to defend yourself or not if assaulted. I’ve seen where you have defended yourself when transit cops have attempted to grab your cameras. And the latest article from outside a prison shows a camera being snatched out of the hands of Honor Your Oath.

    Of course, I believe we have the right to protect ourselves and our property, but such actions may come at the cost of getting assaulted by police or others, and if you defend yourself, you may find yourself getting beaten down by multiple officers claiming you assaulted them. Sure it can all come out later in court, but I’d rather avoid the injuries up front.

    I hope your book covers the best approaches to dealing with having your camera grabbed and getting assaulted. I plan to buy a copy. Can we pre-purchase so you can start seeing revenue right away?

    • Carlos_Miller

      When you defend yourself against multiple men with guns, it can never end well.

      I’ve done it a couple of times against security guards who have assaulted me and it’s always been a natural reaction.

      I just get a little touchy when I’m touched in an aggressive manner.

      But if you are able to think it through, it’s probably just best to defend yourself by protecting your body rather than striking back.

  • Lefim

    Like to add my two cents in and wish Carlos all the success this project entails. I hope this would become a definitive “go-to” book chock-full of legal references and pratical advice a photographer needs.

    Regarding points 7 & 8: most citizens that get caught in this circumstance are not activists but innocently recording their daily lives when “ambushed” confronted by the cops. Some, because of the nature of their jobs, cannot risk arrest exposure else get instantly fired when a NOTM flashes on the company’s computers. Had a incident happened to me and I have to keep my images under wraps until 2015 when the statute of limitations expire for wiretapping in this state. I may beat the rap but I don’t dare risk a Graber and have to look for a new job while fighting the case. Hopefully rule 8 can be written for activists and non-activists alike.

    Hopefully, you’ll get Steveo to work up a element list one can use building one’s own prior restraint relief in getting a camera back that can be useful outside Florida. I think that is a most important piece of legal work short of winning the case.

  • doozer

    any chance of getting a printable version of this. Seems like good bathroom wall material

  • Photog at Large

    Carlos, this has been a very useful post that I think most visitors to your site would find helpful – is there any way to “pin” it so it doesn’t get buried ?

  • Tony Loro

    I would add join the NPPA.

  • Jaco Rautenbach

    Awesome article & advice Carlos, and who cares about picking bones i.e.grammar etc…the meat is in the info!

  • larrybud

    Tip #11. If you’re using a smartphone, sign up to a free service such as dropbox where your video can be uploaded immediately after it’s stopped, just in case they do take your phone as evidence.

  • Steve

    Carlos, Good article. One caveat. It can be illegal to photograph military installations and/or defense related facilities (train stations, ports, bridges, etc) if there is intent to commit espionage. The caves of Afghanistan and emails from all over have produced numerous photographs of potential terrorist targets. In the military we call the resulting photos part of a target package. Now I don’t suspect most of your readers are terrorist supporters, or target selectors, but how is the cop on the beat supposed to know? A little courtesy goes a long way, from both sides.

    • pinbalwyz

      The cop on the beat, generally, cannot know, which is precisely the point. We need not abandon our rights based on a cop’s utter speculation. Train stations are not military bases. Neither are ports, bridges, etc. The Constitution offers guarantees not given to dismissal at the whim of a cop with an overactive imagination. The same can be said for @narchists who color themselves as victims rather than violent street elements with the thin veil of political pretext.

  • James Michael

    I do not talk to aggressive ignorant turds whom have no reason to be accosting me at all….. Ever.

  • Flashing Scotsman

    Mine is three years old, and working just fine. Your “professional” friends need to learn to take care of their gear.

    • pinbalwyz

      Uh…easily done for a portrait photographer–a little tougher for a photojournalist covering the streets.

      • Flashing Scotsman

        As I said, recent developments in plastics have made the metal or plastic thing into a non argument. I may be a portrait photographer, but don’t get the idea that I’m in a studio. I’m out there in real life, and still going strong with my 60d.

  • Michelle Levy

    Fabulous, thank you!

  • Full Name

    Rule 11: Don’t be a jerk. Treat any officer with at least as much respect and consideration as you would any other total stranger. Insist on your rights, but be polite. The first person to raise their voice loses.

  • Daisy

    I think the good police need our support and would welcome videotaping. I have known of really good stand up policemen that couldn’t take the corruption and left. By videotaping we are helping the good guys.

  • Eric Strauss

    Cool stuff.

  • CombatRacism

    Excellent advice. Thank you.

  • pinbalwyz

    I’ve had a lot of luck with the Pentax line of camera bodies with APS-C sensors, the Nikon Coolpix P7700 (great for quality and low light setting w/Leica glass for a 7x zoom lens), and Lumix DMC-ZS7, a P&S w/12x zoom lens using Leica glass. The P7700 and Lumix ALWAYS go with me without fail as they’re part of my belt, without which my pants would fall down. The P7700 has an external port for a microphone and a hotshoe…I highly recommend it for photojournalism where you don’t want a big body attracting attention. It has no VF, however. I use a Rode stereo vido mic (SVM) Pro to improve the sound quality on it, something Carlos needs to improve on. Also, ALWAY bring (I never remove mine) a ‘dead kitten’ because even a slight breeze will introduce rumble outside without it. The model of the Rode I’ve chosen for this purpose has some direction attributes, which improves capturing the audio without ALL of the ambient noise nearby unless it’s in the direction the camera is pointed. The Rode mic requires a 9v battery but does a fantastic job.

    If you’re going to rely on only ONE camera (though I recommend you have backups for security reasons), for investigative photojournalism, the P7700 has a lot to offer. It is also compatible with the Eye-Fi SD card which means you can upstream with the right setup. When in video mode, it has AF which the Lumix and Pentax lack in that mode. The price wasn’t free, but was still attractive at just over $300 new.

    With the spate of strong arm robberies on the streets for even people’s cell phones, be careful what gear you bring with you and be alert to those around you, including the young women–they’re actually some of the worst. They may not all look like your typical thugs, some are young and college students (e.g. @narchists) yet are even more dangerous, willing to assault, bloody, and rob photojournalists on political pretexts over (get this!) their claim of needing ‘personal safety’. I was mobbed by a group of them on the TESC campus in Olympia at a public event for the offense of having a camera with me. I was fortunate not to be thrown off the 3rd floor along with my gear. The camera I had in my hand was ripped from it and it disappeared with the fleeing assailant. There was a huge youthful crowd involved who participated. I still have the audio of the assault and posted it along with providing it to the police.

    It’s important to understand and I can’t overstate how dangerous these violent self righteous street elements with political pretexts are. To provide an idea in this context, while being assaulted, I called the police at TESC who arrived (one uniformed armed certified peace officer) very quickly and made eye contact with me while I was on the 3rd floor. HOWEVER, despite the emergency and my calling for help, she did NOT approach or make contact with me for fully 5 MINUTES after she saw me though she saw my gear being thrown over the 3rd floor railing. She waited (understandably) for the Thurston County Sheriff deputies to arrive for backup. If a trained uniformed armed police officer doesn’t feel safe approaching a crowd like this, YOU, as a photojournalist, are not safe. Be prepared to provide for your own self defense because the police are unlikely to do so. Don’t go alone–have a reliable witness w/you–mainstream media does this now in these kinds of public venues. If you’ve got a well trained ‘service’ dog with a harness you can bring with you, that wouldn’t hurt either. Many of the subjects you will be covering in these settings will have various weapons hidden on their person, possibly even firearms. Photojournalist can be and are KILLED on assignment. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.
    Tony Overman, a photojournalist for the Daily Olympian was cornered downtown near the 4th Ave. bridge by some of these elements who threatened to throw him off it. They’d previously assaulted him, been encouraged by a TESC professor, no less, and stalked him for months, writing graffiti on his employer’s walls (e.g. “Overman–Snitch!”) and even pursuing him to his house one night where they vandalized his home and vehicle under cover of darkness.

    Photojournalists in some places (e.g. Greece) have had their homes set on fire. Photojournalists have become targets. BE CAREFUL! Don’t go alone to sketchy events, be prepared to defend yourself, have many backup audio and video devices w/upstreaming, and don’t be shy about using your cell phone to call 911 at the first indication you are being personally threatened–a crime. Wear a badge or external indicator you are a member of the ‘PRESS’.

  • pinbalwyz

    One downside to I-phones is they may seduce the citizen journalist into getting too close to the subject(s) and harm’s way. MANY photojournalists I see have a Nikon body in their hand w/a 300mm fast lens. This allows them to provide an important defense mechanism for their own safety–distance!

  • pinbalwyz

    I can purchase a P&S camera of an order of magnitude better quality cheaper than the cell phones being referenced here.

  • pinbalwyz

    A 1200mm lens would need a pretty hefty high quality tripod to avoid camera shake or blurred images. I recommend the Tamaron 28-75mm zoom or the Pentax 55-300mm zoom. Most often, I use the former, but if I was going to cover a street demonstration, I’d likely mount the latter. The more violent the event, the longer the lens you want.

    Since mobility is very important for a photojournalist in a fast changing venue, the super-long lenses aren’t all that useful. A fast lens, however, is quite useful in many street venue situations. Autofocus in video mode is also highly useful.

  • pinbalwyz

    Count me in, Carlos, on the PINAC press passes. I have one, my own (Soul Snatcher, Productions) a 6″ button I had manufactured, but more wouldn’t hurt.

  • pinbalwyz

    I’ve had some luck explaining my PRESS status/purpose to LEO’s. But, it wasn’t a scenario where I’d gone out to photograph/test them. Rather, it was me covering something else and their being called (by me or the subject) to the scene. When they ask (as they have) if they can have a copy, I always agree AFTER (I say) I’m done editing and publishing it.

  • pinbalwyz

    That’s OK for the straight laced photojournalists, but Hunter S. Thompson would roll over in his grave (if he had one) at the thought! Freedom of the press doesn’t mean much in the context of having to get the imprimatur of the state. Thus, there are NO ‘credentials’ required to be a photojournalist. In fact, in law, the press had no more rights than any other member of the public. The right of a free press belongs to us all. Therefore, no ‘permit’ or ‘credential’ is required so long as the event/venue is one to which the public has access.

    • Katherine Walton

      Yeah, because you know, somehow, that I’m a “straight laced photojournalist.” Whatever.

      • Amicus Curia

        Me thinkest thou doth protest too much. Are we talking about the same thing?

  • pinbalwyz

    Scruffy, that’s not true. All they can do is ask you to leave and have you arrested for trespass if you refuse. They cannot arrest you for taking a photograph where there is no expectation of privacy. They could have a sign saying “no gum chewing” too. That doesn’t mean they can arrest you for chewing gum. They can only ask you to leave. Carlos was correct in this respect.

    • scruffylookingnerfherder

      I’m not convinced. I believe the sign serves as notice that engaging in that behavior, even if it’s chewing gum, serves as notice of trespass. The arrest is not for chewing gum, it’s for trespass. The sign serves as notice that if you engage in that behavior you are by default not allowed to be there. You’ve already been told to leave.

      Let’s make it easier. If a sign said Carlos Miller is not allowed to enter, and Carlos entered, they would arrest him immediately. They are not required to tell him to leave. They already have via a sign, and he refused by ignoring it.

      Now, to be clear, I don’t have any issue if you disagree, and you may actually be right. But I don’t think your claim holds more weight than mine, and I’d be risking my freedom and money to listen to you, therefore, don’t be offended that I’m going to ignore your advice.

      I’d love for someone who knows the case law better to weigh in. I want to know the definitive answer.

      • Amicus Curia

        I’m a paralegal…for whatever that’s worth. The hypothetical sign telling Carlos (or anyone) NOT to enter is explicit. The hypothetical gum sign is not. People have a right (well settled legal principle) to KNOW what the law demands of them. I know of NO case law where someone has successfully been prosecuted for trespass for violating an ancillary sign. The library/hospital may have signs mandating you not talk too loud or make noise. If you do, you’ll be asked to leave and you must do so to avoid being charged (and possibly convicted) with trespass if you refuse. Trespass prosecutions are quite common. Listen to your police scanner. You cannot cite a single instance of trespass conviction in ANY of the 50 States for violating a conditional sign or correlating ‘policy’ of the property owner–ONLY a refusal to leave when asked or being there illegally in the 1st place, e.g. ignoring a ‘no trespassing’ sign or ‘authorized personnel only’ because that explicitly serves as notification the general public has no right to be there. You can be arrested for being in a public park after hours because the general public has no right to be there at that time when notice has effectively been served the park is closed. You cannot remain in a library, for instance, by hiding in the bathroom until after closing hours without risking prosecution for trespass or possibly even burglary. Chewing gum or photography doesn’t trigger any of these caveats. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. I cannot ‘prove’ a negative. But, I argue that there is not a single instance in the U.S. of someone being convicted of trespass for photography alone. All you must do to prove me wrong is cite a SINGLE contradictory case. You can’t do it because it doesn’t exist. Behavior doesn’t constitute trespass unless it consists of refusing to leave or arriving under illegal circumstances ab initio.

        Your contention that photography over an owner’s objection is ‘trespass’ is utter speculation without a shred of substantiation. Neither the statutory law, case law, nor common law support your position.

        • scruffylookingnerfherder

          Easy there, I made it clear that it was my understanding, and not some decree. The distinction between the types of signs sounds like that is what makes the difference.

          I now understand that a no trespassing sign means you’re trespassing if you’re there and that’s somehow different if it’s not specific.

          Is the “women” sign on a bathroom ancillary?

          Is the “no weapons” at a doctor’s clinic ancillary?

          What you said makes some sense, but the gum chewing vs illegal entry are extremes, while photography in a prohibited area is more in the middle. For instance, I’m certain I can provide case law where someone was arrested for taking photographs in a locker room, but then there’s an expectation of privacy there. I’ve been thrown out of public pools for taking photographs, and didn’t feel like challenging them despite having no expectation of privacy.

          I’m still left confused. Some signage is clearly enforceable and others is not. Is a no trespassing sign different if it says “no trespassing if you’re taking pictures”?

  • pinbalwyz

    The no guns in a liquor establishment/bar is probably based on a State law, not the owner’s whim. Carlos is correct.

  • pinbalwyz

    I kinda like the photo/image of a camera resembling a pistol…which is a perfect metaphor in the right hands.

  • pinbalwyz

    A little competency/training on the part of LEO’s goes even farther!

  • tiny

    is there a PINAC press credentials out yet, does anyone know? just asking. and what is the plan, to give them out, sell them, hire only those that brown nose?

  • tiny

    try this one, AW110 NIKON, so far, best one out there, and you can still keep shooting when it is raining, and in some cases this matters, alot!!

    • HOWARD

      the AW120 is now out, great little camera, and still under $300, i think k-mart has them. BTW- it is a NIKON! so quality should be up there, i own the AW100, water and shock proof, so even if you drop it in the rain, no problem. [BTW-JDL-have you purchased one yet?]

  • tiny

    trespass this, trespass that? what the hell? its all a word game, let the judge decide? that is good, throw out the family taking images, arrest the child taking an image of tacobell? it is all in a word, bullshit! when out in public, does anyone expect privacy, come on be honest! and if you are, even on private property, your in public, PERIOD! they may ask you to leave the property, this they have a right to do, can a sign trespass someone, i say hell no! can the nice police man still arrest you, hell yes. and they dont have to have a reason, they make it up! bottom line of all this bullshit is, if we dont get it stopped, it will continue! {get the AW110/nikon. quality and rugged body, etc. shoots 1080i, and also great images! check it out!

  • TINY

    DIFDI!!! seems that your the one that cannot read, you said they could not be sued, fact is, from what i stated, they may be sued. or didnt you comprehend that part? that “qualified immunity” is bullshit! they use it to hide behind because all the cases would have to be brought by “non-lawyers” and they know it! and use it against us! PRO SE is looked down upon by all judges! the thinking they have is, you aint going no where with this! the brainwashed lawyers wont handle those cases, they are “officers of the court” google it DIDI, or whatever your name is. and learn how to read, will ya? BTW, have you ever been in a court room, traffic court, and small claims dont count.

    • TINY

      BTW now this for everyone here, even lawyers, when someone breaks the law, and violates a federal statute, or a State Law. if there is loss to someone because of this, could the civil liability/complaint, that is if it can stand on its own because of the facts in the case, be brought even though no criminal charges are or to be ever brought by the FEDS, and or the State ATT. office. i do not believe the criminal part has anything to do with a civil issue, they stand alone totally, different judges, juries, rules of procedure,etc. i would love to hear from all that dont understand this, and/or disagree!

      • bacchys

        There doesn’t have to be criminal charges against the officer in order for there to be a civil suit.

    • Difdi

      And the diarrhea continues. You’re vehemently, bitterly AGREEING with me. Calm the hell down, stop freaking out, stop assuming that you’re the Lone Martyr surrounded by enemies and READ.

      • TINY

        Like quite a few unlawful acts, violating rights is both a matter of civil law and criminal law. It’s not just possible for a corrupt public official to be sued, they could be arrested and jailed under 18USC242. Granted, it rarely happens, but that doesn’t mean it can’t.

        [DIFDI- great, i cannot read, seems you said THEY cannot be sued! those are not your words? not possible for THEM to be sued, why is it not possible for THEM to be sued if it can be proven they violated a LAW and that there is an issue of equity loss for someone? you tell me, what am i missing? and i am saying that THEY may be sued! how is that in anyway, that i agree with you?]

        • Difdi

          You keep insisting I said things I didn’t say, that anyone can scroll up and see proof that I didn’t say them. You seem to be building a straw man the size of a small office building.

          You are bitterly arguing that I am wrong but your arguments to “prove” it agree with me in every regard except that you keep insisting that you are not agreeing with me. But YOU are the only one who has said that corrupt police officers cannot be sued — in your straw man argument.

          I don’t know what to say to you. Either you keep piling more and more straw onto your straw man or you have rolled a critical failure on your reading comprehension check and are bitterly determined to “prove” that you didn’t.

          Either way, you’re wrong and it’s obvious to everyone here except you.

          • Repo9999

            you 2 should date

          • TONY

            repo, go screw yaself, hard and long! HHO [so i made a mistake, am i human like every swing dongbrain here? perhaps i am subhuman, perhaps i am trailer trash! perhaps i am the white devil! perhaps i am pure evil? great, now get a life! he said and i said, and it seems we agree, anyone may and can be sued in the U.S.A.! WALA! ]

            so, since i made a mistake, sue me! and i am not even a public official, even though i used to work for the feds! 31 long damn years! [EVERYONE HAVE A GREAT FKING DAY!]

    • Synagogue of Satan

      He said It is not only POSSIBLE that they could be sued, but ALSO that they could be arrested or jailed. I believe it was you, tiny, that misread.

      • HOWARD

        i said “i made a mistake”, so sue me. cannot say more then that, can I? i am only human, not question, time to move on, right satan? and btw satan, i am at a point in my life, i am fixing to fight to battle at the local level, i have concluded the federal level is a waste of time and energy. its is the grassroots at the local level dealing with very bad things that are happening “at the local level” and getting real results! this is where my energy is going to be focus for now and the future! howard

    • Synagogue of Satan

      It was said that it was “not only POSSIBLE for them to be sued, but they could ALSO be arrested and jailed. It seems to me, Tiny, that it is indeed YOU that misread what was written. And multiple times to boot. R E A D S L O W E R next time. Wow, I mean wow.

  • Patti Beers

    You need to add one more rule. Always use live stream. You can stream with your phone in one hand and record in higher quality with a camera in your other hand. Live stream footage can not be destoyed or confiscated by police as it is automatically stored online.

    Live streaming is easy and anyone with a smart phone can do it. If you have a new phone you can use Ustream.TV should work on most smart phones. Go online and set up your account and then download the ap on you phone and you are ready to FTP film the police. Next send a tweet to @CitizenStreams with your city and your stream URL. They will automatically send out a tweet every time your stream goes live. People will watch your live stream and then tweet out the link so more and more people will be witnesses to police injustice.

  • Craig

    Thoroughly enjoyed this article, very well thought out and informative. Keep up the good work, we need it!

  • Liberaltarian

    A few additional thoughts:

    1. Don’t do this is you have warrants for your arrest outstanding.

    2. Don’t do this if you have illegal drugs or weapons in your possession.

    3. If possible, try to have someone else video any police confrontation with you.

    4. Within police circles, the accepted wisdom is that someone with a knife can successfully attack an officer with a holstered gun if they are within 20 feet. So, if you’re within 20 feet of the cops and they warn you about interference, I’d willingly stay at least 20 feet away. Otherwise, I think you’re risking arrest for interference and the charge may stick. You may still be risking arrest even if you’re more than 20 feet away, but 20 feet just seems like a reasonable distance to me. I don’t know the law on this and suspect it is situation and circumstance dependent.

  • Terry Wagar

    My wife Joan Wagar was having an affair with a Portland police officer named Eric Carlson, and my wife turned our daughters against me behind my back, and this cop dyed his hair blond so he could impersonate me to frame me as a pedophile!

    They had our daughters to lie for them and they had the blessings of local authority’s to frame me and officer Eric Carlson was framing me by acting as a double!

    When I found out my wife Joan Wagar was hooking our daughters up with a cop that was acting as a double I tried to warn people about it, and that’s when I was severely poisoned by Joan Wagar!

    All of my wife’s coworkers at East Port Walmart were calling officer Eric Carlson by the nickname Doubleclick because they knew he was acting as a double, and after my wife Joan Wagar poisoned me everyone at East Port Walmart started calling my wife by the nickname Mrs Dash!

    Police used their power of influence to cover up the poisonings at the hopsital and I was repeatedly denied emergency services because of poli9ce influence and interference at the hospital!

    Evidence, Shawna Wagar admits in writing to making false pedophile accusations about me and this occurred when my mother and father were poisoned and murdered by local police and by my wife Joan Wagar!

    Evidence, officer Eric Carlson and Joan Wagar adopted and actively used the nicknames Doubleclick and Mrs Dash in love letters and in their cellphones!

    Evidence, I confronted my wife Joan Wagar with a audio recorder over that love letter Doubleclick the body double wrote my wife and she admits it’s her love letter but refuses to admit to her nickname because she is trying to hide the fact she is a poisoner and that it is open knowledge at East Port Walmart, she still also is trying to hide the fact Eric Carlson is a cop and a look-a-like to me!

    Evidence, because of police influence Joan Wagar aced a lie detector test I payed for! and two years later a detective Brian Assmus of the Oregon state police tried to over up this lie detector test by stealing the page signed by the tester, good thing I have photo copy’s of EVERYTHING!

    Evidence Two months later Joan Wagar A,K,A, Mrs Dash admits in her diary she lied on that lie detector test and admits to her affair with officer Eric Carlson and admits to using pills and antifreeze in her diary and admits to mixing drinks with poisons and admits she is a liar and a psycho and admits to poisoning a plasma donor and admits I was ill at the time!

    Evidence, A week later Joan Wagar writes her infamous denial letter denying her ongoing affair with officer Eric Carlson and denying she is a poisoner, everything in her denial letter is a lie and even her daughters were sleeping around with officer Eric Carlson and his partners, one of her daughters got pregnant at the time of Joan Wagar writing this by Eric Carlson’s partner David!

    Evidence, By the time of Joan Wagar writing this written confession that she uses antifreeze as poison I was so debilitated at this time I was bedridden, Joan Wagar tossed this at me like it was a Frisbee because she wanted to see if I could get out of bed to try and find help or not, I could not!

    The hospital admits I had abominable pain and internal bleeding but fakes not knowing what’s wrong and once again refuses to take a toxicology test and ignores my complaints and covers up Joan Wagar’s written confessions she is a poisoner!

    Officer Eric Carlson brags to Clackamas Walmart employees he’s a twin and an alter ego and Walmart employee makes it known it is open knowledge at Clackamas Walmart he is a look-a-like to me and is using my wife Joan Wagar’s locker where my audio recorder was!

    Evidence, The Portland police and OHSU hospital threatening me telling me they covered up my 911 calls and calls for help and covered up my wife’s written confessions and are threatening me telling me I am not welcome to go to my hospital, their admitting to cover up and threatening me!

    Evidence, I try warning people by email since I was debilitated and I had no phone, and contacting the Multnomah county sheriff’s gets no official help at all and instead of contacting me back by their official office they instead contact me by their privately owned Blackberry phones and taunt me via emails!

    Evidence, Police made sure I could not get help from any other hospital as well and no one will take a toxicology test! Officer Eric Carlson is one of the first responders to respond to my 911 call and he was NOT there to help!

    Evidence, officer Eric Carlson and his bros in the Portland police and Joan Wagar made a audio death threat and broke into my home and put it on the computer, their using sound boards to say goodbye in multiple ways!
    The same day I found their audio death threat the police parked a black car with the Oregon license plate “SAYLVU” on it in front of my apartment!

    Evidence, Officer Eric Carlson and his bros in the police department and my wife Joan Wagar caught by me on video outside my apartment waiting in ambush to shoot me at 5:45 am and they had my apartment flanked on all sides and officer Eric Carlson and Joan Wagar were waiting in ambush right by my doorway and their armed with guns and flashlights and recording devices!
    You can see their black car with the license plate “SAYLVU” still in the parking lot!

    Evidence, Another Portland police officer caught on video acting as a double of me outside my apartment and he is with a female that is acting as a double of my daughter Megan Wagar, her is a picture of Megan Wagar with officer Eric Carlson’s partner David!

    And here is video of a police officer acting as a double of me and he is with a female acting as a double to my daughter Megan Wagar!

    Portland police and county sheriff’s brought over several children to my apartment building and were coaching those children to pedofy me in front of my apartment while I am still inside my apartment, police told the children their getting TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS to help them to murder me off by making me look like a bad guy!

    I am disabled and surrounded by people that are either sting operatives of police or buddy’s to law enforcement and no one will take a complaint from me or help me and I recently discovered my wife’s buddy’s in law enforcement and my oldest daughter and my apartment manager had a water filtration system hooked up under my kitchen sink and they were using it to slowly poison me to death while they destroy my reputation in my neighborhood at the same time which is WHY NO ONE WILL HELP ME!

    Terry Wagar

  • CitizenJournalist

    “If you have recorded footage that you believe will help police solve the camera . . . ”

    I believe this should read “. . . solve the case . . . “

  • CareBare Hair

    Has anyone done a top ten list for dealing with the Police in England? I love your stuff – keep up the great work.

  • Zane

    Am I the only reader that was reading this article and
    thought to myself “this guy/gal sure is making many typographical errors
    for an article about journalism”? I’m sure there will be someone pointing
    out every error I’ve made during this post. I will respond to that now, because I
    probably will never come back to this site to read your criticisms. I didn’t
    write an article providing my so-called expertise in journalism and post it
    online to educate the masses.

    This is a very informative article, but please for the love of God read what you posted.
    Please make corrections to what you have found. It’s embarrassing.

    The next comment will be: “give an example”

    “Do not get into arguments with the cops because at that point, you’re already lost the battle,…”

  • howard

    your right, for the level they are at now, they need to have items proofread before going online with it! i could do this for no charge, i may not eliminate every mistake/error, but there would be quite a few less, and that is a good thing, right? and zane, has the book made it to the store shelves yet? havent seen nor heard anything, i would like to get a copy, bet you that it had been proofread before they started the printing run.

  • OhSnapDJB

    if i may i would like to add something for people using their smartphones to film. 1st, please put a PASSWORD on your phone. This should be a no-brainer. 2nd, instead of using your phones internal camcorder, i suggest using the free app BAMBUSER and heres why. Bambuser will automatically upload ANYTHING you film directly to their server. You can also link your social media sites so that your film is posted LIVE and people can then click on the link and watch you record LIVE as its happening. So if some cop decides to take your phone to DELETE the footage, IT WONT BE THERE and your footage will be safe and very easily accessed if you need it later. 3rd (and probably the most important thing), is prepared to be ARRESTED! Ive seen alot of videos where people will “cave in” when some wanna be tough pig starts barking. If your are NOT prepared to be arrested, i suggest you DONT film cops! This is a very real possibility and you have to (for lack of a better phrase) “go the distance” in fighting for your rights. Theres no point of filming if your arent ready to fight for that right in COURT! if there are any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on twitter: @iBenacio

  • WHAT?

    Great information. Thanks for posting.

  • Geo

    As a police officer and a citizen,it pains me when I see my fellow cops not upholding the constitution. Keep on photographing us, keep on holding us to the higher standard and for God’s sake keep exercising your rights.

  • cliveklg

    Get a camera with network capabilities if you can afford it. Otherwise get the following apps for your phone cameras:

    Qik and UStream, two services available for both the iPhone and Android phones, allow instant online video streaming and archiving. Once you stop recording it is instantly saved online. So if police do confiscate your phone, they can’t delete any of your videos (even though it is illegal for them to do so, many will anyway). the only problem with these two apps is you can delete your uploaded videos from your phone, which means that if your phone is confiscated before you can turn it off (or if you keep your phone unlocked), whoever took it can possibly get into your account and erase your evidence.

    This camera is a great bluetooth capable device for just this purpose:

    It lets you instantly email the video, meaning you don’t have to worry about the problems with the above apps.

  • Shelly Ann LPN(ret)

    Very helpful advise, going to download and keep handy when I am on the road.

  • Manuel de Moustache

    does anyone know of a way to stream the video online or something like that from a smartphone and taht will be archived? It’d be perfect if someone made a site like livestream for stuff like this, so that it doesn’t matter if your phone is taken or destroyed or if you are killed the evidence will be uploaded onto the site as evidence.


    are the press badges ready yet? just asking. it has been aver a year since someone has even mentioned it here on the site, etc. anyone know, or perhaps has gotten one yet? HOWARD

  • Team Player

    Some additional suggestions. Capture the story – don’t become the story.

    Be aware of your state’s – obstruction of government laws, for example not immediately providing the ID in a stop and identify state might constitute “hinder or delay” a misdemeanor charge in my state.

    Dont talk to the person being arrested or distract the officer. Just keep quiet and still while continuing filming. Again it could be a hinder or delay and an arrest for you.

    Any video of a crime can/will be seized as evidence. You should be given a property voucher if they take your camera and memory card for processing as evidence. You most likely would have to give consent for them to view your images, or they may need to get a warrant. The camera should be powered down and placed in an evidence bag with an evidence seal over the opening of the bag (and perhaps over the slot with the memory chip.

    In my state deleting the video images would be a felony charge of tampering with evidence. It could apply to a dishonest cop – or it could apply to you.

    I don’t know of a single state that applies wiretapping to photographing the police in public anymore. Too many court cases say – it doesn’t apply.

    Also check your laws about broadcasting the image of a minor or a crime victim. If it turns out you broadcast the image of a rape victim or something, plan on signing over your home and 401K to her.

    The First Amendment gives no additional access to members of the media over the other citizens. Like in a protest or riot. If the police order people to move and you stay, you will be arrested along with everyone else.

    • howard

      so your saying that your required to produce ID, i didnt catch the STATE’s name. “stop and identify state ” is that even possible, “legal” under the u.s.constitution anywhere in the USA?

      • Team Player

        These are the “Stop and identify states”. Typically the police must have reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime to require you to identify yourself.

        • HOWARD

          exactly my point, and you made it for me! who is to say what is reasonable when its you and the “person with badge and gun”? they have, they will take advantage of that! it has to be, black and white, your required to ID or not! when any STATE leaves it up to the “person with the gun”, it will end up bad when the standard to hiring, THUGS, and it sinks to out of the gutter people, for positions like that, and with laws that make it shades of grey, instead of black and white, people die and/or get arrested! i seen it for myself, they are making lawmakers of the ones with guns/badges, this is a very bad thing for all of us! HOWARD [they have that standard for positions of “security officer” in south florida, right CARLOS? some of those jackasses think they are in “law enforcement”!!! fact is, any jackass with money may become a “SECURITY OFFICER” CARLOS AM I WRONG? btw-how is the lawsuit going?]

  • Jeff

    Thank you for this informative article. Unfortunately, the link in “Click on this link to read up on your state’s wiretapping or eavesdropping laws.”, , is not currently visible to the general public. Can someone please share a copy of it? Thank you.

  • Undecider

    The cost of education now involves mandatory possession of a cell phone? Sounds as though those who organize these classes lack imagination. I can see why from a technology and convenience point of view they may want this. However, to mandate something that incurs a monthly fee and tracks, traces and databases your every move is a bit on the privacy violating end. Why not leave it up to the student to decide their own tools?

  • bacchys

    Still great advice. The part about not interjection oneself into the scene can’t be overemphasized. Getting arrested for obstruction only gives them an easier opportunity to seize the camera.