Arizona lawmakers Friday approved House Bill 2319 (HB 2319), making it unlawful for someone to knowingly record law enforcement activity within eight feet of the incident that is transpiring. HB 2319 passed through the Senate Thursday by a vote of 16-12-2-0.
Earlier drafts of this legislation banned recording within 15 feet of police encounters, but the place-based restriction was subsequently reduced to eight feet. These amendments also created an exception for people who are the subject of the police contact in question, or passengers of a vehicle involved in a traffic stop. Individuals who are directly involved in this manner may still film the interactions so long as they “are not interfering with lawful police actions.”
The offense for an initial violation of this law is considered a petty offense—but, if an individual does not either stop recording or move further away after a verbal warning, they can be convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
This legislation, sponsored by former police officer and Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, now awaits final approval from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.
The Arizona House Democrats tweeted that this bill was “constitutionally suspect” and a “[s]tep in the wrong direction for law enforcement accountability & trust.” Other reports have suggested that this bill could violate civilians’ and police watching groups’ First Amendment rights.