- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2015

A Texas state representative proposed a bill on Tuesday that makes it a misdemeanor for private citizens to photograph or record police officers within 25 feet.

House Bill 2918, introduced by Republican state Rep. Jason Villalba, would make recording officers within 25 feet a class B misdemeanor, and private citizens who are armed would not be able to record within 100 feet of an officer, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The bill says only radio or television stations that hold an FCC license, or newspapers that are published at least once a week, or magazines that appear “at a regular interval” and are “of interest to the general public” can legally record the police within 25 feet.

“(My bill) just asks filmers to stand back a little so as to not interfere with law enforcement,” Mr. Villalba explained on Twitter.

Other Twitter users criticized the bill.

“There are plenty of laws on the books already prohibiting interfering with law enforcement. Real intent plz?” asked Chris Clemence.

Texas already makes it a crime if someone “interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law.”

Others pointed out that in 2011, an appeals court in Glik v. Cunniffe ruled unanimously that private citizens are allowed to record police.

“First Circuit court in the Glik decision didn’t believe 10 ft. was too close for filming,” tweeted Justin L. Oliver.

“The @USSupremeCourt1 has already ruled on this. There IS NO EXPECTATION of PRIVACY in public,” tweeted Terry L. Mase.

Mr. Villalba later tweeted: “I have not restricted filming police. Merely asking folks to stand back a little to let the cops do their job.”

“It came about because my brothers/sisters in blue asked for my help to protect them. I did what I could to help,” he added.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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