DC's police recording guidelines: sane

(via Boing Boing) It's distressing that when ArsTechnica reported on DC's new guidelines for police response to civilians recording their activities, they titled it DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy.  That said, Washington DC now explicitly has the best set of guidelines for dealing with civilian recording I've ever seen -- probably the best in the country.

Lanier's directive addresses another scenario that is becoming increasingly common: a civilian takes a photograph or recording that a police officer believes could constitute evidence of a crime. Under Lanier's directive, an individual cop cannot take a recording device away from a citizen without his or her consent. "Consent to take possession of a recording device or medium must be given voluntarily," she writes.

In the event that the cop believes the recording is needed for evidence but its owner isn't willing to part with it, the officer is required to call his supervisor. The device or recording media can be seized only if the supervisor is present, only if "there is probable cause to believe that the property holds contraband or evidence of a crime," and only if "the exigencies of the circumstances demand it or some other recognized exception to the warrant requirement is present."


[... O]fficers "shall not, under any circumstances, erase or delete, or instruct or require any other person to erase or delete, any recorded images or sounds from any camera or other recording device. [Officers] shall maintain cameras and other recording devices that are in Department custody so that they can be returned to the owner intact with all images or recordings undisturbed."

Check it out, it's really incredible how sensible the DC police apparently plan to be.