- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HELMETTA, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey town where a police officer was videotaped making critical remarks about President Barack Obama is reconsidering a law that would require people to get permits to photograph or film inside public buildings.

The proposal was withdrawn from Wednesday’s council meeting agenda so attorneys and administrators could review the proposal and make revisions, Borough Administrator Herbert Massa said. There is no timetable for when the revisions would be complete.

The proposal came about a month after a police officer was videotaped in the municipal building making critical remarks about Obama and the Constitution. The officer has since resigned.

Massa said the videotape spurred discussion about the possibility of permits for photography and videography in public buildings. He said the proposal is aimed at ensuring privacy for those conducting business in public buildings. He noted that officials don’t want people taking photos or shooting video when credit cards or wallets are out as people are conducting business in public buildings.

“There has to be a reasonable expectation” of privacy, Massa said.

Under the proposal, public meetings would be excluded from the permit requirement.

In the video, the officer, Richard Recine, said he had been called because a resident was seen videotaping. Recine was captured saying that Obama has “decimated” the Constitution and “if he doesn’t follow the Constitution, we don’t have to.”

Officials from the American Civil Liberties Union said the original proposal was overbroad and would violate free speech rights.

“It was a serious intrusion on free speech and the freedom of the press,” said Jeanne LoCicero, deputy legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “Permit schemes like these are far too broad and are serious intrusions.”

LoCicero said the ACLU was pleased to hear the ordinance has been pulled from the agenda for revisions.

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