Advisory – videorecording police

MSSA Post
Dear MSSA Friends,

I am seeing more reports of people being arrested and charged with various crimes (e.g., wiretapping, obstruction, etc.) for videorecording police in public places, reports from states other than Montana.

So, I sent an email to a contact at the Montana Department of Justice and asked what advice MT DoJ gives to police officers and agencies about video recording (or audio recording, I suppose) police in public places in Montana.  Here is the reply I received:

Here is a little bit on how we train law enforcement on the issue you asked about in your email.  The Montana Law Enforcement Academy trains on this issue quite a bit.  Students are told very sternly that citizens have the right to photograph and video tape officers and to not interfere with these types of acts.  The exception is if the person videotaping is in such close proximately to the event that it would impede the officers efforts or create a hazard or risk to the situation.  Even in those instance officers are trained to explain to the person why this is impeding or interfering and ask them to move to another location so as to not create a hazard.

So just to clarify, the act of videoing an incident alone does not mean a person would be arrested. To rise to a level of obstruction of justice, the person videoing must be actually interfering with the investigation or arrest. So videoing is not on illegal on its face or even a gray area.

Interesting!  Good to know.

Generally, the courts reviewing these situations in other states have held that when police are doing their public job in public places they have no expectation of privacy.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com