Experts hold virtual seminar to explain your rights while filming police officers

Experts held a seminar to outline how cameras can be used safely and legally in public.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- While officers in roughly half of all police departments across the country are wearing body cameras, their video is rarely seen quickly as a record of what happened.

This means cameras and cell phones have become important tools to document interaction between police and the public, but the right of bystanders to record the police may not be well-known.

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A seminar was held Friday to outline how cameras can be used safely and legally in public.

"When citizens are recording or journalists are recording, it's likely that it's shared, if not in real-time, fairly soon," Halima Kazem-Stojanovic said.

Halima is a journalist and a justice studies professor at San Jose State. She held an online seminar on how bystanders and journalists can safely and legally record the police.

Webinar panelists pointed out anyone, including bystanders, can record video and audio of officers in public. However, officers can impose reasonable limitations.

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Thursday the City of Tiburon and City of Belvedere held a joint virtual community meeting about an incident where officers questioned a Black business owner, who was working late in his store last week.

"What they can do in certain circumstances is maybe move somebody away from the situation if it's a matter of public safety or streets are being blocked," said Stephen Solomon from New York University's First Amendment Watch program.

But that doesn't mean they have to stop recording.

With today's technology, police say everyone should expect to be on camera. And that's welcome at Fremont Police.

"If we have multiple perspectives of any incident, that just enhances the investigation and paints a clearer picture about what actually happened." Capt. Sean Washington said.

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The courts also have upheld the right to record audio of officers' interactions in public.

"If they're on duty, out in the public, not in a private space, doing something consistent with their job like an arrest or questioning or helping somebody at an accident or something like that, in those contexts, police officers do not have an expectation of privacy," said Sophia Cope from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

While body cams have become standard issue for officers, similar ones are now available online for the public.
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