Under federal court orders in Calhoun v. Pennington and Anderson v. City of Atlanta, two cases I litigated with fellow Atlanta attorneys, Atlanta police officers are prohibited from interfering with the public’s right to photograph or video police activity, and the penalty for interfering with photography or video is dimsissal.
Anderson concerned a woman who was arrested, and had her cell-phone confiscated and her photos deleted, after photographing Atlanta police officers beating a handcuffed suspect. Calhoun concerned an unlawful police raid on a gay bar, during which Atlanta police officers prevented the victims from recording the actions of the police.
As part of the resolution of these cases the Atlanta Police Department was ordered to implement the following Standard Operating Procedures:
1. All employees shall be prohibited from interfering with a citizen’s right to record police activity by photographic, video, or audio means. This prohibition is in effect only as long as the recording by the citizen does not physically interfere with the performance of an officer’s duties.
2. Employees shall not intentionally delete or destroy the original or sole copy any photograph, audio, or video recording of police activity created by a member of the public.
3. Employees shall not intentionally delete or destroy the original or sole copy of any photograph, audio, or video recording relating to any use of force described under the “Reporting Requirements” section of APD SOP 3010 (“Use of Force”)
The Anderson order also required the Atlanta Police Department to amend its disciplinary regulations to make violation of these prohibitions an offense requiring dismissal of the officer.
Return to Top