Now that it’s pretty much settled that the public has the right to record the police*, legislators are now moving to peel back this begrudgingly “granted” First Amendment protection.
*Exceptions, of course. Far, far too many of them.
Filed by Dallas State Representative Jason Villalba (R), the bill prohibits anyone in public within 25 feet of police to record them. The buffer is even greater at 100 feet, for anyone recording video who is also carrying a gun. Only accredited news organizations, like KENS5, would be allowed to record without the buffer zone.
Guess who gets to decide whether any unaccredited videographers are “too close” to the action? That’s right. It’ll be the person deploying handcuffs or demanding the camera be shut off/relinquished. It will all be in the eye of the uniformed beholder who’s just going to eyeball the distance between him and the unaffiliated bodies of public accountability, and if it’s close, just go ahead and call it a crime. A crime with some rather hefty penalties, considering it involves recording public figures in public areas.
Anyone caught filming within the 25-foot radius could be prosecuted for a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. For gun-carriers who step within 100 feet, it would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.