Texas Legislature
9:38 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Senate Bill Would Give Press And Citizen Journalists Added Protection When Filming Police

A bill winning favor in the Senate provides protection to anyone with a smartphone or other camera while filming the police. 

Senate Bill 897, which was authored by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, reinforces protection for a citizen's first amendment right if they are arrested for filming the police.

"Multiple incidents have occurred in Texas where citizens have been told to stop filming the police even though filming the police is perfectly legal. I think it's vital that this harassment stop and that the police shouldn’t being doing anything in public that they fear being recorded," Estes said.

Estes revised the bill, taking out a section that allows the media or citizen journalists to secure civil recourse.

Todd Stricker is the former president of the National Press Photographers Association and testified in favor of the bill.

"Personally I have been situations where I have been asked to stop filming or face arrest. At one time I had a gun drawn on me before I had even begun filming in the middle of the street where an arrest was being made because they didn’t feel like we should be there and that it was newsworthy," Stricker said.

Estes is adding a few last-minute changes based on testimony, and for now it was left pending in committee.