Bystanders filming cops must stay 15 feet back, new Ariz. bill proposes

The bill is sponsored by a former police officer


By Suzie Ziegler 

PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker wants to put a legal limit on how close witnesses can stand while filming police encounters. A bill sponsored by State Rep. John Kavanaugh, a former police officer, has proposed a minimum distance of 15 feet, reports FOX 10

Kavanaugh was inspired to write the bill after Tucson police officers told him they were worried that citizens were getting too close to cops on the job. 

"You can film all you want from 15 feet. It's only when you want to get closer where you begin to be a potential threat or distraction to the officer,” Kavanaugh told FOX 10. “But you have to stay away unless the officer said it's OK to come close.” 

The bill wasn’t without its critics. Attorney Dan Barr told FOX 10 that the bill is unnecessary and infringes on first amendment rights. But Kavanaugh defended the legislation, saying that 15 feet will help better capture the full scene. 

"My bill is quite reasonable. It says you can film but unless the officer gives you permission, stay 15 feet away,” Kavanaugh said.

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