In an attempt to continue to build transparency and trust between the public and the law enforcement officers, Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck, issued new police directives. One in particular references the public’s right to record law enforcement officers entitled “FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO OBSERVE, OBJECT TO AND RECORD POLICE”. The following is a summary of what you can and cannot do.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: (Subject to specific guidelines in the full directive linked below)

  1. Under the First Amendment Rights you can video and/or photograph and record law enforcement officers,
  2. You have the right to be where an incident is transpiring, without trespassing, for video taping, recording, photographing, without crossing a police line or interfering.
  3. You can report inappropriate behavior of a law enforcement officer.

WHAT YOU CAN’T DO:

  1. You cannot cross or intrude over a police line.
  2. You cannot intentionally block law enforcement officers from completing their work.
  3. You cannot video or photograph something that “materially impedes or interferes” with a law enforcement officers handling or investigation of an incident or their safety.

WHAT LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS CANNOT DO:

  1. Law enforcement officers cannot take action against you as long as you are not interfering or disrupting their investigation.
  2. They cannot stop you from recording.
  3. They cannot intentionally block you from recording.
  4. Law Enforcement officers cannot demand a permit.
  5. Law Enforcement officers cannot take your recording device.
  6. A law enforcement officer cannot intimidate, threaten or require you to cease recording.
  7. A law enforcement officer cannot ask the purpose of the recording.
  8. A law enforcement officers cannot use or threaten force for verbalizing about an officer’s conduct.
  9. A law enforcement officer cannot ask for your identification.

WHAT LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS CAN DO:

  1. Law Enforcement officers can question or hold you if you are suspected of “inciting others to violate the law”.
  2. Law Enforcement officers can ask you to move to a different position if you are impeding their investigation but cannot make you stop recording.
  3. Law enforcement officers can question or hold you for questioning, for a reasonable period of time, if they suspect you have committed or are about to commit or are committing a crime.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO YOUR RECORDING EQUIPMENT IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES:

  1. A law enforcement officer needs a warrant to take or search your source of recording with the exception of the following:
    • (a) under the valid arrest of the person recording, however, police still need a warrant to search it, unless, it is needed to “prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm”.
    • (b) if the law enforcement officer believes you may have evidence of a crime committed the officer can make two requests of you, first is to ask you to turn over your recording device of your own free will, or the chip, second, the officer can seize it under exigent circumstances if there is probable cause to belief that a violent crime resulting in death or serious injury has been committed, a good faith believe that there is evidence on the recording device of the crime being committed and a good faith belief that evidence will be destroyed.

If your recording device is seized be sure to get information at the time for how to recover it and where it will be.

For a copy of the full directive click here https://www.njoag.gov/resources/ag-directives/