It's usually a good idea to tape your interactions with police, and the ACLU's free "Police Tape" app for smart phones is just the tool you need to do it discretely. This handy app vanishes from the screen once started, so they won't even know they are being taped. The app also uploads a copy of the vid to the ACLU's secure servers so they can review it and possibly bring their considerable legal weight to bear if your rights are violated.
No matter what they try to tell you, taping a public official while on public property is 100% legal (I'm not a lawyer: this is not legal advice) and you don't need their permission. They might try to intimidate you by muttering obscure BS about "wiretap laws," but those laws don't apply to public officials in public places. The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice affirmed the constitutional rights of citizens to record the police in public, so don't be bullied, protect your rights.
Available free of charge for Android and iOS smartphones at...
The problem comes when the community that you are in has ordinances that prohibit sound recordings of police on "official" business.
Maybe the ACLU will pay for your fight to the supreme court and maybe they won't. All I am saying is to be aware of your local laws before you tape the cops.
09-19-2013, 05:51 PM
As far as I am concerned, this issue has been decided. On May 14, 2012, the Department of Justice issued an opinion letter affirming the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights of citizens to record police officers in the public discharge of their duties.
With this precedent, even the most bumbling of lawyers should be able to easily win in court. Note that this is a constitutional issue... local laws can't circumvent it.
ACLU or no ACLU, I'll record no matter what and let the chips fall where they may.
The opinion letter was written in regards to Christopher Sharp v. Baltimore City Police Department, et al, and can be found HERE
09-21-2013, 05:10 PM
If you don't have a "smart"phone, a small digital recorder is a handy gadget. Mine is smaller than a pack of smokes.
09-21-2013, 05:33 PM
As a Police Officer I encourage people to videotape our transactions unless they are going to jail. Then I ask someone else to do the taping. I'm recording it so they might as well. They have every right.