Arizona law makes it illegal to record police actions unless you’re more than 8 feet away from officers

Rep. John Kavanagh said the purpose of HB 2319 was to safeguard police from danger or distractions unrelated to the situation.

Close-up recording of Arizona police officers will be prohibited under a new law that goes into effect on Sept. 24.

Republican Governor Doug Ducey has signed state Rep. John Kavanagh’s House Bill 2319 into law, which prohibits taking photos or videos of law enforcement activities when the subject is within 8 feet, as reported by The Arizona Republic.

Phoenix Police officers watch protesters rally on June 2, 2020 during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed into law a measure that makes it illegal to knowingly record video of police officers within 8 feet. (Photo: Matt York/AP, File)

There are exceptions to the law. According to HB 2319, “a person who is the subject of police contact may record the encounter if the person is not interfering with lawful police actions, including searching, handcuffing or administering a field sobriety test. The occupants of a vehicle that is the subject of a police stop may record the encounter if the occupants are not interfering with lawful police actions.”

The exemption also applies to individuals in an enclosed structure on private property where they are authorized to be that is also the scene of police activity. However, individuals are not permitted to record the police activity, according to the law, if police determine that the recording is “interfering in the law enforcement activity or that it is not safe to be in the area and orders the person to leave the area.”

Kavanagh, a Republican, filed the bill in January in response to concerns Tucson authorities had about individuals they had come across at crime scenes, 12 News reported.

“While the officers are taking police action, such as arresting people, they come right up behind the officer within feet to do the filming,” he said, per 12 News.

In a March opinion piece, Kavanagh wrote that the purpose of HB 2319 was to safeguard police from danger or distractions unrelated to the situation at hand. But many believed otherwise, declaring the legislation was fundamentally unconstitutional, lacked specificity and gave police too much authority.

Last month, Arizona House Democrats called the bill “constitutionally suspect” on Twitter.

“Step in the wrong direction for law enforcement accountability & trust,” they tweeted. “Republicans want cameras on teachers & kids but not police.”

Initial violations of the statute are regarded as minor offenses, but individuals may be found guilty of a Class 3misdemeanor if they continue to record within 8 feet after a verbal warning.

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