Filming the Watchmen: Why the First Amendment Protects Your Right to Film the Police in Public Places
by Evan Bernick, Paul J. Larkin Jr.
The Heritage Foundation
June 26, 2014
Police are relying on state wiretapping statutes to arrest citizens who film police in public. The federal circuit courts that recognize a First Amendment right to film police in public places where the citizen-recorder has a right to be present are in line with Supreme Court precedent. While the exercise of the right to film police is subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, police cannot be allowed to suppress speech at the core of the First Amendment’s protections. State wiretapping statutes that prevent citizens from filming police officers in such places without any further justification violate citizens’ First Amendment rights.