New Arizona Law Bans Recording Police Within 8 Feet

( Last week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a law that makes it a misdemeanor for people to record within 8 feet of police officers during the course of their duties.

The law says witnesses to a law enforcement activity cannot get any closer than 8 feet away while recording any incident they should reasonably know is a law enforcement activity or if an officer has given them a verbal warning not to record within 8 feet.

The law defines “law enforcement activity” as questioning a “suspicious” person, arresting someone, issuing a summons, enforcing the law, or dealing with an “emotionally disturbed or disorderly person” who exhibits “abnormal” behavior.

The law allows someone who is the subject of a law enforcement activity to record their interactions with officers provided the recording doesn’t interfere with “lawful police actions.”

The legislation’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. John Kavanagh had argued in an op-ed that the law was necessary to give police a “buffer” from those who are hostile to law enforcement and follow officers to record police incidents. Kavanagh said these people often get “dangerously close” during potentially violent encounters.

He also argued that during such incidents, the officers have no way of knowing if the person approaching them is an accomplice who may assault the officers or just an innocent bystander. As a result, the officers can “become distracted” from the suspect, increasing the risk to the officers and others.

Kavanagh argued that the legislation will not affect anyone’s ability to film possible excessive force incidents, adding that keeping them back eight feet may likely reveal more context to the encounter.

The law is set to go into effect in September.