Colorado Bill Would Fine Police $15,000 for Interfering with Citizens Filming Them

140722-filming-police-cover-1340_f8653fb299543f9ded9510b01a443326.nbcnews-fp-1200-800-950x633By Alek Hidell

All too often we have seen police interfere with citizens attempting to catch misconduct on video. A bill in the Colorado Legislature is setting the groundwork that would subject officers who attempt to block, destroy or seize lawfully recorded video by citizens, seeing these officers face a penalty of up to $15,000. The bill was introduced by a bipartisan team of state representatives comprised of three Democrats and a Republican.

Representatives Joseph A. Salazar, Daneya Esgar, Lucia Guzman and David Balmer proposed the legislation. It came about as a result of numerous cases where the current laws and regulations were not properly enforced by police commanders, thereby allowing the unlawful seizure or destruction of legally filmed police video. The Denver police case of Jessica Hernandez, who was shot by officers as she stood in her front yard, is a primary example. A bystander who attempted to film the incident claims that police actively interfered with her attempting to film the incident, resulting in another case where we have to take law enforcement’s word for it.

The right to film public events is not limited to the media. Any citizen with a camera can and should record incidents of police misconduct. The United States Court of Appeals tackled this topic in 2011. The case of Glik v. Cunniffe was pivotal in paving the way for Colorado’s legislation. Simon Glik was filming police in Boston, where they had made an arrest. When they observed Glik filming, they arrested him on a charge of wiretapping. The court of appeals found that a citizen’s right to film police in public was “clearly established” and that Boston Police violated his rights by arresting him. Glik settled the case in civil court for $170,000.

image-1The shooting of Alton Sterling captured on cell phone video

Colorado’s new bill doesn’t fine the officer directly, instead deferring the cost to the officer’s agency. Imposing a $15,000 fine directly to the officer would ensure the officer’s compliance. It is unknown why the authors opted to take a more lenient route.

The bill reads:

A person has the right to lawfully record any incident involving a peace officer and to maintain custody and control of that recording and the device used to record the recording. A peace officer shall not seize a recording or recording device without consent, a search warrant or without a lawful exception to the warrant requirement.

The right to film officers is guaranteed and protected by the First Amendment. Why we live in a society where it is necessary to pass a bill, ensuring officers obey the law and follow the Constitution, I don’t know. The police are supposed to uphold the Constitution and concepts of liberty. Seizing cell phone video as a way to avoid discovery of misconduct should not only incur a fine, but termination and prosecution as well. Colorado’s house bill is, at least, a great first step in the right direction.

Sources: Complete Colorado, Legislation State, Colorado.

This article (Colorado Bill Would Fine Cops $15,000 for Interfering with Citizens Filming Them) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and

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11 Comments on "Colorado Bill Would Fine Police $15,000 for Interfering with Citizens Filming Them"

  1. The servant must always be under the watchful eye of his master.

  2. Keep smoking the ‘deprogramming’ positive effects of pot -Colorado…cheers

  3. Excessive fines used to be classed as cruel and unusual punishment but in the near-totalitarian west things like that don’t count anymore, so all that’s left to say is Sieg Heil!

  4. “Colorado’s new bill doesn’t fine the officer directly, instead deferring the cost to the
    officer’s agency. Imposing a $15,000 fine directly to the officer would ensure the officer’s compliance. It is unknown why the authors opted to take a more lenient route.”

    This is a fantastic idea, but these ignoramuses are going to try to force the tax payers to cover the fine – instead of the cop who committed the offense? That will do ZERO to stop these thugs from yanking a cell phone camera out of a bystander’s hand and then stomping it under their boot, so as to save their jobs and pensions. The fine needs to be imposed directly on the cop.

  5. edyysachs (the shill) takes an ignorant (status quo) shot at Colorado.
    10,000 folks a month are moving to Colorado, maybe the rest of states should foll in line, huge taxes.
    Judging by the bills sponsor I am completely surprised, of course it all baloney, the officers won’t hesitate to take the phone, since it isn’t their money.
    Come to Colorado and imbibe, for the health of it, whilst watching gorgeous sunsets.

  6. Weak bill… the officers should have to fork over the money, NOT the agency or taxpayers.

  7. Since I’m little more than government chattel can I defer any fines I receive to my “agency” as well?

  8. Just another bill to make them think they will look good in the voters eyes.It does nothing but cost us money and increase the cops attitude that he can get away with it. BS.

  9. Why expect to alter egregious activity indirectly when it would be much more effective done directly? In other words, fine the individual, not the agency.

  10. Colorado used to be such a douchebag police state. See what smoking a little good pot can do for you? Calms you right down. Makes you wanna be all peace and love.

    Once the cops mellow out I’m moving there!

  11. Lance Hollandsworth | July 26, 2016 at 9:55 am |

    I see a lot of “Accidental” deaths of people filming the police in Colorodo lol – Who’s going to actually prosecute these cases? The DA that’s for the cops? lol

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