Connecticut Bill Could Make Police Liable for Interfering with Photographers

In the past year — and especially with the growth of the “occupy” movement — police interfering with photographers or pedestrians trying to snap a photo of them has been in the news quite a lot. Just yesterday we reported on the Olympics’ security guards who landed in hot water after harassing photogs shooting from public land. In the past, this was no problem, as police officers had little to fear in way of personal liability when they interfered; however, a new Connecticut bill — the first of its kind — may soon change that.

The bill — originated by Democratic Senator Eric Coleman (pictured above) — is the first of its kind, and was recently approved by a 42-11 margin in the Conn. state Senate. Rather than summarizing it, here it is verbatim:

This bill makes peace officers potentially liable for damages for interfering with a person taking a photograph, digital still, or video image of either the officer or a colleague performing his or her job duties. Under the bill, officers cannot be found liable if they reasonably believed that the interference was necessary to (1) lawfully enforce a criminal law or municipal ordinance; (2) protect public safety; (3) preserve the integrity of a crime scene or criminal investigation; (4) safeguard the privacy of a crime victim or other person; or (5) enforce Judicial Branch rules and policies that limit taking photographs, videotaping, or otherwise recording images in branch facilities.

Officers found liable of this offense are entitled, under existing law, to indemnification (repayment) from their state or municipal employer if they were acting within their scope of authority and the conduct was not willful, wanton, or reckless.

Several additional exemptions have been suggested, all involving the possibility that the photographer or videographer is interfering with the police. Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said, however, that interfering with police is already illegal and that any further exemptions would “render the bill without meaning.” The bill is expected to go into effect on October 1st, 2012.

Senate Bill 245 (via Pixiq)

  • Adam

    Hells yeah! And of course it’s a Dem doing it – whenever did a “conservative” ever stand up for civil liberty? Those right-wing parasites consume freedom, never create them.

  • Renato Murakami

    May this mark a precedent to all states, then country, then reach my country.

    I mean, I don’t think photographers needs to have priviledges over others and such, but it seems no ammount of coverage is enough to stop some police officers from abusing their powers to harass photographers in public spaces.
    And then, photographers can never say how things will go if they take things into court.
    I know lots of times it’s just plain ignorance, but a bill is just right to stop people from pulling this card.At some point, people will be more aware of what can and cannot be done.

  • Chris Kimball

    Looks like a good start. Now if the rest of the country will follow suit and pass similar laws……

  • Bbenson6

    If you find yrself asking why we may need such legislation, you don’t have to look far.

  • Michael Godek

    this is great!  at least it’s a start for governments recognizing the NON threat photographers pose.  It’s just silly how they shut down photographers for no reason…..however i feel like with the bill saying 
    (2) protect public safety — can be easily twisted to mean the photographer was doing something so that the officer had to stop him and no one can prove one way or the other

  • uberboxer

    good thing you are not a parasite….get a life.  When ever you generalize a group like you just did, you show your ignorance.  Kudos to the “Dem” for authoring the bill, it is well needed.  

  • Adam

    Kindly illustrate your counter argument with a few examples of the GOP coming to the aid of individual liberty ……….. oh yeah, there aren’t any. Read a newspaper once in a while, you might come off as half informed.

  • uberboxer

    Its really quite amusing to hear “progressive” people like yourself do nothing but spill hate on those with opposing or differing views, while wearing the badge of societies savior….I hope that wan’t too spiritual of a reference for you.

    If what you want is to “contribute” to society, that is complain about “them” instead of working toward a solution of peaceful discourse…..good luck with being happy friend – you never will be.

    BTW, what newspaper is that exactly you read each day – I want to make sure not to subscribe to it.  It clearly is not doing much for you.

  • Coyote Red

     Um, both parties do their share of stifling freedoms.  The Dems sure like to step on gun-owner rights, aka The Second Amendment.  Most Dems are anti-conservationists meaning they don’t want any hunting even if it’s for the health of the animal population.  Think PETA and Green Peace.  Obama wants to MAKE you pay for insurance even if you are healthy as a horse and don’t need it.

    Republicans aren’t any better.  Anti-abortionists, Pro-execution (go figure), etc.

    No, both parties do their fair shore of trying to make you live the way THEY want you to.  They both want more control over your everyday life. 

  • PaulJay

    Google ‘The Illusion of Choice’ by George Carlin

  • JamalJenkum

    I’m so glad that someone is taking action to prevent the police from stopping people of making video of them. I love watching YouTube videos of obese welfare queens being tasered when they get uppity with the police.