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Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law on Sunday banning residents from recording videos within eight feet of “police activity.”
The law classifies knowingly filming within eight feet of officers as a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and up to a year probation, according to Arizona law. The law says officers must warn anyone filming at least once before they can be charged with a crime.
The legislation defines police activity as any time law enforcement officers make an arrest, question a suspicious person, issue a summons, deal with an emotionally disturbed or disorderly person who exhibits abnormal behavior, or enforce the law.
Critics argue the law could allow officers to simply walk up to anyone filming them in order to legally stop the recording.
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State Rep. John Kavanagh, the Repulbican who introduced the bill, says officers would have no reason to walk up to someone filming beyond the eight-foot perimeter until the person was not suspicious, according to the Arizona Mirror.
Democrats in the state legislature disagreed.
“I have been involved in efforts to film police officers doing their job and you are absolutely a suspicious person to law enforcement at this time. And they are aggressively coming at you to see why you were filming,” said said Senator Martin Quezada to the Mirror.
The new law comes about a year after President Joe Biden’s Justice Department announced an investigation into the Phoenix Police Department for reports of excessive force and mistreatment of homeless people. The investigation is still ongoing.
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“One of the Civil Rights Division’s top priorities is to ensure that every person in this country benefits from lawful, effective, transparent, and discrimination-free policing,” he said at the time. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “Police officers across the country must use their authority in a manner that respects the Constitution, federal civil rights laws, and human dignity.”