NYPD Sends Out Official Memo Telling Officers They’re Allowed to Be Photographed


The NYPD has sent out an internal memo that tells officers they aren’t allowed to take action to stop someone from photographing or filming them. This comes a whopping two years after Washington DC’s police chief sent out an almost identical memo.

According to the New York Daily News, the chief of department’s office sent out the memo to the various command centers across NYC on Wednesday. And the memo doesn’t mince words. Here’s a relevant section:

Members of the public are legally allowed to record police interactions. Intentional interference such as blocking or obstructing cameras or ordering the person to cease constitutes censorship and also violates the First Amendment.

However, while the cameras can keep snapping, this memo doesn’t give license to a free-for-all. As common sense would dictate, photographers and videographers are still prohibited from interfering with police operations.

This news should produce a sigh of relief for the many vigilant, camera-toting citizens that call NYC home. Of course, this isn’t going to solve all the issues — it seems some less professional officers will say just about anything to get you to stop taking pictures — but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

(via Imaging Resource)

Image credits: NYPD by Dave Hosford

  • bob cooley

    Your screen name wins the internets! excellent.

  • Jimmy Kent

    You and your opinions are a joke. This is you frantically lashing out at a world that is leaving you behind because you make no attempt to understand it. How sad it would be if people were to judge all Americans on the basis of your absurd bigotry in the same way you denounce all Muslims as extremists because of the unconscionable extremism of a minority!

    Just to throw a little reality into your little fantasy pity party, Muslims currently make up 0.8% of the US population, so your infantile chauvinism isn’t under threat any time soon. Let’s hope they don’t all escape from persecution to come to the Land of the Free only to find the border guarded by Neanderthals with pitchforks and assault rifles, like yourself, You do your nation a gross disservice.

  • Zuggy

    People who want to film should be bright enough to automatically upload to a cloud, to a host service, etc.

    Takes the ability to delete out of their hands.

    Doesn’t solve the problem but it robs them of their power.

  • Bill Adams

    Terrible, muddled headline. Story is about what officers are _not_ allowed to do (forbid photographs of officers) or what citizens _are_ allowed to do (take photographs of officers). Officers “allowed to be photographed” is not how you convey either idea — it’s the headline you’d use in some alternate universe where officers had fought for and finally won the right to be photographed.

  • john mcginnis

    A statement without the policy provisions and the penalty box to back it up is only a bit above worthless in most PD’s.

  • lexplex

    This is good progress, but I find as a photographer that just being nice and friendly and asking goes a long way. Like when I politely asked two officers to pretend to arrest my friend for some posed photos and they happily obliged – it was hilarious. I then bought them a coffee to thank them and we chatted and I took some more photos and it was amazing. I know you can’t really do that in lots of situations, but it usually puts anyone at unease to have their picture taken without asking and being a police officer in a city like New York is stressful enough as it is.

  • lexplex

    Yell ‘free donuts!’

    Seriously though, I once broke up a fight by making fart noises into my hands. It’s very hard to still be aggressive to someone when you’re both laughing like children. :-D

  • randommomster

    Bambuser ftw

  • Tom Billings

    You’d lose the bet. The Crusades were a counter-attack against the previous 370 years of “Holy War” since the Battle of Yarmuk in 638 A.D. That struggle continued through at least the last offensive by the Caliphs in 1683, not including retaking Christian lands in Europe that continued till 1922. That most of the blows before the Crusades were absorbed by the State we call the Roman Empire of Constantinople, instead of the western States that provided most Crusaders, is irrelevant.

    That said, what is relevant in the disputes with Islamists is not Islam, but the use of Islam to excuse the revival of the Caliphate. The Caliphate was the Muslim copy of the Roman Empire of Constantinople. Think of what the rest of the world would believe about us, and Christianity, if we were trying to revive the Roman Empire of Constantinople with all its pretensions to universal rule, today.

  • Lucius Liu

    Baby steps. I’ll take it though. Body/mic cameras on all officers. An Audio/Video recording of each and every encounter with the public. That would be optimal.

  • Brett Miller

    MchaelSNC, I’m pretty sure the cops would consider all those things you’re describing to be attacks. You are not allowed to defend yourself or anyone else against the police. It doesn’t matter how painlessly you do it.

  • tdperk

    If you can help it don’t be a stupid prick. Calling the police and continuing to film it just makes good tactical sense.

    It may have escaped your notice that we also no longer wear colorful uniforms and advance en echelon when we fight a war.

  • tdperk

    And everything you are describing it is an assault if the cop wants to call it that. With battery.

  • tdperk

    James it can’t be racist because it’s not about a race. When a Christian rapes pillages and murders they are doing exactly what Christ told them not to do. When a Muslim does it to spread Islam they are doing exactly what Muhammad did and asked them to do.

    It is only a religion of peace if you are already Muslim.

  • Jay Sinclair

    Call the cops on the cops? You aren’t very smart are you. Backup is more than likely on the way already, and will not be on your side, They will be there to control the crowd, and whoever is in the area. Meaning whoever is shouting at them to stop, interfering, or has the camera. You would keep filming? Really? While a cop tells you not to? What exactly do you think would happen to you, and the video on your camera? You would basically be calling the cops on yourself genius. That’s why memos like the one in the article have been issued. To prevent Police like these from beating people down, making up false stories and charges, falsifying reports, and violating first amendment and civil rights,

    Everything Michael has said makes sense to someone with morals, and integrity. People like you are too apathetic, or too cowardly to stand up for their rights, that’s why this kind of thing continues. I won’t even tell you how effed up you have to be to condone this kind of behavior, but ignoring it is just as bad.

    And save the dumb comments. you sound like a fool. That sound you just heard, it was what he was saying going over your head. The statement was about the revolution to free the US from the Crown, and fighting against tyranny for freedom. Not about military doctrine, or tactics, so your snide remark was basically ad hominem, and completely failed.

    I would call you a troll, but you aren’t even good at that. Please don’t say anything else, you’re lowering the intelligence level, and civility of this discussion. And I’m going to go ahead and block you since I know you will have some dumb, profanity filled, name calling reply that will have no point, or valid counter argument. I guarantee it. This will be the last words between me and you.

  • Frodo

    Cops laugh at and spit on the first amendment.

  • Timothy C Brown Sr.


  • Al Borrelli

    Both to protect the citizens as well as the cops. I’ve always loved this idea. GoPros on their helmets. Constant reminder for both to be on best behaviour because it’s being recorded.

  • Al Borrelli

    And what, exactly, have you done to rectify this issue so plaguing our nation? You know, besides reading and commenting about it on the internet anonymously?

  • Al Borrelli

    Ok, I have, you can call me Ranger Al. And I’m calling you an idiot. Whatcha got? In fact, unlike you, I’m not here anonymously smashing away on a keyboard spewing my Fox News fueled garbage, I’m out in the world actually trying to represent and fix the USA in a positive light. You, you’re here spewing your garbage.
    I’m ashamed that people might see you and your ignorant, intern-based, fear-mongering views are representative of all of us servicemen whether currently serving or former servicement.

  • Al Borrelli

    Give up, he’s an idiot.

  • Al Borrelli

    What’s yours?

  • Al Borrelli

    No that’s an actual, mature, thought out proposal of something that may actually help. Kudos.

  • Peaceful Streets

    On January 1, 2012 I filmed the police for the first time because two cops were assaulting a woman who had committed no crime, and then they charged me with a fabricated felony charge of spitting in the cops face. I’ve been arrested two more times for filming the police, and indicted for a time I wasn’t even arrested for filming the police in Austin, TX.

    They’ve also arrested several other members of the Peaceful Streets Project for filming the police. They arrest us because they know they can. The prosecutors support them and push forward with the unconstitutional charges. The politicians ignore the crimes of the police. And sadly, too many of the residents support the police knowing full well that they are committing crimes.

    The cop who assaulted me and charged me with a felony crime that I never committed on New Year’s Day 2012 won a state award from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving that year, won the department’s first ever “Hero Award” that year, and then won the national Mother’s Against Drunk Driving award the following year. They slandered me, which led to others libeling me. They put cops outside of my house to intimidate me. They tried to get me indicted on additional crimes I didn’t commit.

    And I am a half White, half Asian, West Point, Harvard and Stanford educated professional who had never been in trouble with the law. There were also a half dozen witnesses in my case who said that the cops lied, and two videos which proved it. If the cops are willing to conspire to throw me in prison for years, what do you think they’re willing to do to young black and Hispanic men?

    ~ Antonio Buehler

  • E-Nonymouse A

    That’s hilarious that they have to be told “It’s ok to be put on camera”, if you consider cameras are EVERYWHERE!
    They are in the patrol cars, they are on various private and municipal buildings, they are increasingly in private vehicles as well.

  • Antonio Buehler

    The Peaceful Streets Project.

  • Antonio Buehler

    There is a difference between engaging in action that will make a difference, and just getting yourself killed. Through the Peaceful Streets Project I am trying to make a difference, not just get killed.

  • Antonio Buehler

    Please read my response to yours.

  • Al Borrelli

    From one Ranger to another, well done. I see comments like that on the internet and like to make sure folks back up their talk. You have. Well done.

  • greyskye

    See here’s the thing, Assault is defined in law as “an intentional act by one person which creates an APPREHENSION in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact” – in other words you don’t even need to touch a cop for them to be able to arrest you for assault. So unless you’re willing to be charged with assault yourself you should be extremely careful of how you intervene with the police even if they are beating someone on the floor.

    The safest thing to do is to be recording it and loudly saying “I AM BARING WITNESS TO POLICE BRUTALITY. I WILL BE REPORTING THIS TO THE MEDIA” repeatedly without getting in the cops way. Try and get badge numbers, but don’t put yourself in the cops arms reach.

  • greyskye

    You are completely wrong Michael, and you’re giving potentially dangerous advice at this point. If you lay a finger, hell even if you don’t lay a finger on a cop, you can be instantly arrested for Assault. Please look up a website called flexyourrights for how you CAN safely and legally stand up to the police. Making any kind of physical movement toward intervention is ILLEGAL.

  • disqus_Hk6bAV5M1R

    Sad thing is that police need to be sent a memo in the first place.

  • disqus_Hk6bAV5M1R

    Let me guess….you will call 911.

  • Raichu

    Who is this “they” you speak of? All 1 billion or so of them?

  • Frodo

    NY Gubernatorial candidate, Randy Credico, was recently arrested for filming cops. That memo is doing wonders, LOL!!!!

  • Angrydave

    Although I applaud this and all the police departments in this country should do the same..if they really want you to stop recording, they will just move you back too far to see anything, or declare your interfering with police procedure and make you stop.

  • JamalJenkum

    I’m so glad they clarified this rule protecting the first amendment rights of the public. Hopefully it will produce some more entertaining videos of obese welfare queens being tasered after they get uppity with the police.

  • Jamie Reynolds

    Or more videos showing a clear cut abuse of power and police brutality. Being a “welfare queen” and being “uppity” isn’t illegal by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe you yourself have a nice job and live in a neighborhood where money is flowing freely but not everyone is so lucky. Welfare, food stamps, and other socialized forms of help for the poor are the only thing keeping them off the streets and starving to death. Choose your words better next time.

  • JamalJenkum

    No, being an uppity welfare queen isn’t a crime, but it’s really annoying. I was just pointing out the most of the time the entertaining video of them being tasered or pepper spray is the most productive thing they’ve done in their lives.

    Now that the dust has settled in Ferguson, do you think any of those angry blacks will be returning the flat screen tv’s and booze that they stole due to their frustration with the ‘racist white police’ forced to defend themselves from a 300lb black kid who just committed a violent strong arm robbery?

  • Kory Watkins

    You belong in NYC because you so violent. Stay away from us.