Washington DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier Defends Citizens’ Rights To Record Police

Posted Jul 25, 2012

Cathy Lanier, the police chief at Washington D.C. has issued a general order.  The order explains the constitutional right for citizens to take photos of and record officers on video.  The order is part of a settlement in a case by Jerome Vorus.

Vorus claims to be wrongly detained after taking a photography of the police at a traffic stop in June 2010.  Vorus sued with the help of the ACLU and reached a settlement.  He filed a voluntary dismissal in the case yesterday.

This past May the U.S. Department of Justice rebuked the Baltimore Police Department for not defending the rights of citizens.  The Justice Department said that the police department needed a policy that further educates officers on the First Amendment rights of citizens and provide guidance on how to respect them.

Lanier’s orders outlines specific rights and tells offices that they cannot stop individuals from recording, block cameras, or detain individuals.  The police cannot seize cameras without permission and supervision from a commanding officer.  They also cannot view files on the device without a warrant.  Once evidence has been collected, cameras must be returned with all of the original files.

The police chief’s order was enforced by the settlement of the Vorus case and now it is her job to enforce the order.