Its legal to video record the Police in Oklahoma but there are certain procedures you must pay attention to. There are times when you may want or need to have a record of someone’s interaction with the police. Whether it is someone you know or a stranger, if you see the police doing something that seems inappropriate, overly harsh, or just out of the ordinary for any reason, you may want to take out your cell phone and start filming. Before you do, you may wonder, is it legal to video record the police?
Does The Constitution Protect Me While Recording
The right to record police activity in public places is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The first amendment is deals with your right to free expression. This expression must be free from government interference and this includes the Police. The expression is not limited to what you say but includes all expression that isn’t prohibited by law. This includes writiing and pictures. Because of this it is legal to video record the police in Oklahoma as long as you are not interfering with their ability to perform their duties. T
Guidelines To Safely Video Record Police Activity
If you choose to record the police in Oklahoma, it is important to do so from a safe distance and to avoid interfering with their ability to perform their duties. It is also important to remain calm and respectful and to comply with any lawful orders given by the police.
It’s best to be open and apparent in your attempts to film the police and not try to hide the fact that you are recording them. While it’s true that police officers are public employees and they do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the performance of their duties, the people they are interacting with probably have a right to privacy and deserve to know when they are being filmed and give (or withhold) their permission for the video recording.
What if the Police Order me to Stop Recording Them
A police officer may demand that you stop filming or even request that you give them your phone. It is best to firmly but respectfully inform them that you have a right to film them in public as they perform their duties. The police do not have any right to seize or confiscate your phone or camera without a warrant, and they certainly do not have any right to delete your pictures or video recordings in such a case. Remind the officer that you have a First Amendment right to photograph or video record them as they perform their duties. So long as you are where you have a right to be (not trespassing or going onto any private property to film) and not interfering with their work, you are in the right to film them.
What If They Arrest Me For Recording Them
It’s possible that some officers will not respect this right and may try to arrest you and try to search your phone. If they do take you into custody, know that the arrest is very likely illegal and that you will almost certainly win if you challenge the arrest in court, but do not fight back against the police or threaten them in any way. If it comes down to a dispute between the police and you over your right to film them, you need to consider the importance of your right to video record versus the trouble, expense, and inconvenience of fighting the case in court.
Get The Details
If you do stop filming to avoid arrest or other direct conflicts with the police, be sure to document the events thoroughly. Write down everything that you can see, such as the badge numbers and names of the officers, the number of their patrol cars, the agency that they represent, how many officers were involved and what they did, and whether any officers used weapons, whether they were tasers, guns, or batons involved. Note any apparent injuries that were suffered by the victims that you can see. If you can communicate with the person who was involved with the police after the officers have left, get their contact information and give them yours.
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If you are arrested or charged with a crime while recording police activity, it is critical to consult with an attorney who can help protect your rights and advise you on your legal options. The experienced Tulsa criminal law attorneys at Kania Law stand ready to assist you. Call 918-743-2233 or contact us online for more information and to schedule a consultation.
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