BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore police back down. A new rule means officers can’t stop citizens from videotaping encounters with officers. This comes on the heels of a WJZ investigation into the videotaped arrest of a woman at the Preakness.

Kai Jackson explains why police changed their tune.

The police department has changed its policy regarding the videotaping of officers, but that may not be enough.

A mobile phone video of an arrest taken by a citizen at the Preakness last year started a constitutional firestorm for Baltimore City Police.

“It’s illegal to videotape anybody’s voice or anything else,” one police officer said on the recording.

That statement is constitutionally incorrect. Regardless police confiscated and erased that video.

“The way it was explained to me was, it was evidence and I had to give it to them,” Chris Sharp, who recorded the arrest at the Preakness, said.

“It’s a very important issue because the Department of Justice has gotten involved,” said Meredith Curtis of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland. “It involves the First Amendment rights of citizens to record police action in public.”

Sharp is suing police for violating his constitutional rights. As the case heads to court, the department has reversed its policy.

The department has issued these new general orders. With a few exceptions, no member of the police department can stop a person’s ability to observe, photograph or record police doing their job in public.

“Well, we looked at an incident that we had at the Preakness and we looked at the state law. We wanted to make sure we took a proactive stance,” Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the Baltimore City Police Department, said. “You know, we’re probably one of the first five departments in the entire country that put out policies and procedures informing our officers of what these laws are.”

The United States Department of Justice has sided with Chris Sharp and so has the ACLU. Both have condemned the initial police action.

The hearing is set for Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Comments (6)
  1. Jethro Hooper says:

    Wowee! Baltimore should be proud! They’re actually telling their police officers what the laws are.

  2. maryland resident says:

    they are now blocking the posts here thanks WJZ

  3. big tom says:

    Oh I just love that, they changed THEIR policy, of can’t arrest for video taping, so their policy is now in synch with my policy of video taping them. I always loved how they made up the law as they go along in Baltimore, I wonder which law policy they will change next? the one about how it’s not against the law to drive down the public street after 2am, but they jack you up anyway if you do., don’t believe it if you get lost in the unmarked streets and trying to find your way out either your a criminal

  4. love says:

    Lots of police officers get away with things that you wouldn’t believe.I think its about time that someone takes a beep look at all the sick things they do to the people they say they protect.

Leave a Reply