Broadly speaking, it is always legal to record the police in public places or when they are on-duty, so long as the witness does not interfere with police proceedings. And the proliferation of smart phones and social media has made citizen monitoring of police activity easy: people carry high-quality photo and video technology in their pockets, and can share their records almost instantaneously.
What’s more, mobile phones apps now exist specifically to record interactions with the police. Different ACLU state offices have apps that record video and immediately back them up to a server, so records aren’t lost if a phone is lost or destroyed.
The existence of this kind of record shifts the conversation, said [Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele], Senior Community Organizer at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a founder of Brooklyn’s Cop Watch Alliance.
“Before the knowledge of this tape [of Walter Scott], the police account was totally different. Now that it’s present, we can see what would have been presented and likely accepted as the narrative.”
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