If it becomes law, the bill would reportedly require police officers to have someone’s consent or a warrant to physically take or destroy a persons camera or footage. If an officer violates this law, the victim would then be able to seek damages up to $15,000 plus attorney fees. This would also be the first law in the country that would guarantee civil damages to people who have their recording rights violated by police.
After passing in the House on Wednesday, Colorado House Bill 15-1290 will now make its way to the Senate for a final vote.
Police union officials are not happy about the bill, and they say that it treats officers unfairly and holds them to a standard that citizens are not held to, which is ironic because police typically behave as if they were above the law, and not subject to the same standards as everyone else.
“The CACP does not believe that the people who put their lives at risk every day should have different standards of liability than anyone else in government,” police union representative AnneMarie Jensen, said in a statement.
According to 7 News Denver, Rep. Joe Salazar, co-sponsor of the bill, said House Bill 15-1290 has support from both Democrats and Republicans and is not intended to penalize police.
“It takes a very special person to be a police officer,” Salazar said. “We want to honor them, but at the same time, we have a few bad apples who need to be aware that their conduct now has major, major consequences.”
One of the incidents that caught the attention of Salazar was the case of Bobbie Ann Diaz. Diaz was trying to film what happened after police shot and killed 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez.
As Diaz was trying to film the incident, she says an officer stopped her and threatened her with arrest if she continued to film.
“At that time, (the officers) put Jessie down and they were on their knees yelling at Brianna that she better not record. She better not,” Diaz said. “She got scared. She got intimated. These are big officers and she didn’t want to make things worse.”
Diaz didn’t know that she was protected by law to film the police as long as she wasn’t interfering with their investigation.
Only through shining light into the darkness, i.e., filming police encounters, will enough people finally see how corrupt and violent this system is becoming. Your right to film the police must be protected.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.