The Rules And Your Rights For Recording Arrests The Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King resonated, in part, because it was caught on video. Now, most modern cell phones have video cameras. Many police departments struggle to draw the line between citizens' and journalists' rights to film arrests, and their officers' rights to privacy.


The Rules And Your Rights For Recording Arrests

The Rules And Your Rights For Recording Arrests

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The Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King resonated, in part, because it was caught on video. Now, most modern cell phones have video cameras. Many police departments struggle to draw the line between citizens' and journalists' rights to film arrests, and their officers' rights to privacy.


Radley Balko, senior editor, Reason
Carlos Miller, arrested for photographing police making an arrest
James Machado, executive director, Massachusetts Police Association


This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

Just about everybody who has a cell phone has a video camera in their pocket. And almost 20 years after the Rodney King video, friends, accomplices and passers-by scarcely hesitate to record interactions with the police.

You can find these videos on YouTube. There are blogs and websites solely devoted to these amateur recordings, and in some places, the police are trying to put a stop to it.

In Boston, a man was arrested for illegal electronic surveillance when he recorded audio of police officers making a drug arrest. In Baltimore, several people face felony charges for recording their own arrests. And, of course, the cops have video cameras, too, sometimes mounted on the dashboards of their cruisers, maybe someday soon, cap-cams on police headgear.

At best, the laws on this are fuzzy, and states are only now just trying to catch up. Later in the program, free agency in pro sports, from Curt Flood to LeBron James. But first, cops on camera.

If you have experience on either side of the camera, tell us your story. Our phone number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. Email us, You can also join the conversation on our website. Thats at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

We begin with Radley Balko, a senior editor with Reason magazine, where he writes about the criminal justice system, and he joins us from a studio in Nashville. Nice to have you with us today.

Mr. RADLEY BALKO (Senior Editor, Reason): Thanks for having me on.

CONAN: So if I see something curious on the corner involving a police officer and a citizen, and I take out my cell phone and start recording, am I okay?

Mr. BALKO: It really depends on where you are, and even within that, it depends on the particular police officer that you're recording.

In three states right now, they are actively arresting people for recording on-duty police officers: Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. In the other states, and even those states, the law isn't settled. Basically, they're arresting on an interpretation of wiretapping laws that...

CONAN: Yeah, I was going to say, are these new laws passed to cover this specifically or interpretations of old laws?

Mr. BALKO: Yeah, these are well, in most cases, they're interpretations of old laws. But actually, in Illinois, the Illinois Supreme Court threw out a conviction of a guy who was arrested and was recording police officers from the back of a police cruiser.

And in response to that, the Illinois Legislature actually specifically amended the state's wiretapping law to make it illegal to record police officers on duty without their consent. Actually, it applies to anyone without their consent. They took out an expectation of privacy provision that was in the old law.

But in other states, you know, it's sort of wide open right now. You know, if a police officer wants to arrest you for videotaping him, he can he doesn't need wiretapping laws. He can look at, you know, obstructing a police officer, or if he asks you to turn it off, and you don't, for some sort of, you know, disobeying a lawful order.

So the law is really behind on the technology on this, and a lot of this stuff isn't settled.

CONAN: The Maryland, you mentioned, is one of the places where it seems to be at least an interpretation of state law that it's illegal. There has been a celebrated case involving a student at the University of Maryland.

Mr. BALKO: Yeah, that's right. In Maryland in February, a University of Maryland student was pretty savagely beaten by some police officers after a University of Maryland basketball game, and it was caught on numerous cell phone cameras and posted to YouTube.

And the videos that were documented and posted actually contradicted the police report. And in fact, there was a security camera, a police-operated security camera that was pointed in an area that would have covered the beating, and mysteriously, that camera stopped functioning during the period that the beating occurred.

But after this happened, we started seeing these arrests in Maryland. People were starting to be arrested for recording police officers, and Maryland prosecutors and police were using this old wiretapping statute.

And, I mean, interestingly in Maryland, the Maryland law actually does have an expectation of privacy provision. So basically, if you record someone without their consent, you've broken the law unless that person had no reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to that conversation.

CONAN: But this is a public official in the course of their duty on a public street.

Mr. BALKO: Absolutely. And in one case, this was a police officer who actually had his gun out and was pointing his gun at a person that he had pulled over. And it's really absurd. I mean, the way that Maryland law enforcement officials have interpreted this law, when a police officer pulls you over, he has an expectation of privacy with respect to what transpires during the interaction. You, the citizen, don't, obviously, you know, the old Miranda warning, anything you say can and will be used against you. And it's really fundamentally at odds, I think, with some of the sort of core concepts of what we associate with a free society.

CONAN: The Miranda warning only after you've been arrested. I mean, that's another situation. But the police often have video cameras of their own mounted on the dashboard of that cruiser that pulls you over.

Mr. BALKO: Well, not only that, but in Maryland, where these arrests are being made, there are also police surveillance cameras all over Baltimore and Annapolis and Montgomery County.

So the position of the Maryland government really seems to be that, you know, we can watch you in public, but if you try to watch us back, you've committed a felony, and you're going to go to prison.

CONAN: Is there a difference if you're recording someone else's arrest or if you're trying to record your own?

Mr. BALKO: Not that I can tell. I mean, the difference actually seems to be where in Maryland you are and whose interpretation of the law, you know, is being enforced.

There was an arrest in southern Maryland a couple weeks ago, another case where a woman was arresting police who were responding to a noise complaint in her building, her apartment building.

In that case, she was arrested, and the local prosecutor actually declined to press charges because she said the officers had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

So there seems to be a lot of disagreement, even among law enforcement officials. And that's really pretty troubling because what we're talking about here is the line that separates actions that are protected by the First Amendment are on one side of this line, and on the other side of this line, you've committed a felony, and you're going to prison. And the fact that that line is not clearly defined I think is a failure on the part of the Maryland Legislature and the attorney general.

CONAN: And maybe in other states, as well. It's not just the state of Maryland. And the other part of this is: What if the person making the video is a journalist?

Mr. BALKO: Yeah, well, this is I mean, this is, as I said, I mean, this is a pretty core concept or a pretty core idea of a free society, that government officials, while they're acting as government officials, should be held accountable, or that we should be able to hold them accountable.

And I think it's a pretty core First Amendment issue not just the free press portion of the First Amendment but also the right to petition the government. You should be able to document government wrongdoings if you want to petition them, you know, for what they've done wrong.

CONAN: You could understand, though, to some degree, police being concerned about someone systematically doing surveillance to either nefarious ends, either in terms of crime or in terms of terrorism.

Mr. BALKO: Well, I mean, look, these aren't you know, we're not no one's trying to videotape police while they're, you know, changing clothes in the department locker room or, you know, while they're conducting, you know, some sort of secret meeting on where they're hashing out national security strategy or security when the president is visiting.

These are videos that have been taken of police acting in their capacity as police officers, enforcing their police power, arresting people, detaining people, questioning people.

These are I mean, this is the power that a police has is pretty absolute when it comes to the people that they interact with on a day-to-day basis. And the idea that they should have a privacy right while they're exercising that power, it's just, it's really kind of a foreign concept, I think, to the way we view the relationship between the government and the citizens.

CONAN: We're talking with Radley Balko, a senior editor with Reason magazine, where he writes about the criminal justice system. We want to talk with those of you who have been involved in these recording incidents, on either side of the camera, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, We'll start with John(ph), and John with us from Des Moines.

JOHN (Caller): Hi, Neal, thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Sure. What happened?

JOHN: Well, I was driving with a friend of mine in Colorado in the early '90s, and like young guys, we were speeding. And an officer pulled us over, and we happened to have our large VHS camera, and I decided to film the happening for whatever reason.

And the officer got out of the car, I was filming him, come up to the window, and he promptly asked my friend to come out of the car, and he went to the back of the car, I'm assuming to avoid the taping incident.

But I continued to film, and then my friend came back. And he was cited for speeding, and then also was given a pretty stern warning on where we should and shouldn't use this particular piece of video and said we'd be held accountable.

So, obviously, we just showed it to our friends, and at that time, I don't think YouTube or any of the media was out there, but I don't know, I thought I'd just throw it out there. But he was really irritated with it but opted not to apply any more pressure.

CONAN: All right, John, and you've never done that again before or since?

JOHN: No, no, I certainly something as routine as that, I think the discussion's going is when you're seeing something that really looks out of the ordinary, which may be a judgment call based on the context of what you're seeing at the time, you're seeing it, right?

So three cops on one guy, you may not know what had happened before that, but that may I mean, someone may want to videotape that and then use it for improper police brutality or what we've seen on the airwaves before. But I'm not going to do it unless I think really something's bad going on that (technical difficulties) be captured.

CONAN: All right. John, thanks very much for the call, appreciate it.

JOHN: Thank you.

CONAN: And Radley Balko, obviously technology has gone leaps and bounds since the rather clunky videotape recorders of the 1990s. But that was, I guess, the genesis of all of this, the Rodney King tape.

Mr. BALKO: Yeah, it really was. And I think, you know, since the Rodney King tape, there have been, you know, dozens of stories where citizen video has shown that a police officer's account of a particular event wasn't, you know, the video proved that the officer's account wasn't accurate.

And, you know, this isn't to say that all police officers are dishonest. They're human like everyone else, which means a portion of them are dishonest. And given the power that they have, I think it's important that we be able to hold them accountable.

CONAN: Is anybody to your knowledge doing time for recording the police?

Mr. BALKO: Not to my knowledge. Basically, I mean, the way these laws tend to be enforced, and I've done I'm working on an article about the law in Illinois, which recording a police officer in Illinois is actually a class one felony, which is the same class of crimes as sexual assault. And it's punishable by four to 12 years in prison.

But what's happened in Illinois actually is that the police tend to use this as a tool to sort of intimidate people from arresting them. They get arrested and charged and then, you know, faced with four to 12 years in prison, most people will then gladly accept a plea bargain to some sort of misdemeanor charge.

But because of that, the law has never been challenged, and, you know, nobody wants to take that chance of the law being upheld and then, you know, looking at some pretty serious time.

CONAN: We're talking about cops and cameras. Can you be arrested for recording a police officer? If you have experience, either side of the camera, give us a call, tell us your story, 800-989-8255. Email us, Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

We're talking about the rules and your rights when it comes to video-recording the police. In some cases, as we've heard, bystanders were arrested after pulling out a camera phone and pressing record. A number of departments are trying to get in front of the issue with cameras of their own.

If you have experience on either side of the camera, tell us your story, 800-989-8255. Email us, And you can also join the conversation on our website. Thats at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Our guest is Radley Balko, a senior editor with Reason magazine, and joining us now is James Machado, the executive director of the Massachusetts Police Association, and he joins us on the line from Baltimore, where he happens to be today. Nice of you to be with us.

Mr. JAMES MACHADO (Executive Director, Massachusetts Police Association): Thanks.

CONAN: And from the point of view with the police, what's wrong with a citizen recording the police officer?

Mr. MACHADO: Well, I can only speak to Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, it is not illegal to videotape police. The only thing that is illegal is audio-taping. It has to be two-way consent for audiotape. But in Massachusetts, video-taping of police is not illegal.

CONAN: The two-way consent for audio recording, my recollection, that's an old wiretap law.

Mr. MACHADO: Correct.

CONAN: And it's being applied to people who record the police?

Mr. MACHADO: We have not, in Massachusetts, had any cases regarding that. We find that police are more often exonerated by the videotape than they are implicated. So we use dashboard cameras many times to portray the full event. It's imperative you get the event, the full context of the event, from start to finish.

CONAN: And a lot of places, this is not directly what we're talking about, but in a lot of jurisdictions, they're suggesting that all interrogations ought to be recorded. They would, again, validate the police much of the time.

Mr. MACHADO: That is the practice here in Massachusetts.

CONAN: So in general, it sounds like you would be in favor of this.

Mr. MACHADO: We have no problem with the videotaping if it is videotaped in its entirety. What we have problems with are snippets taken after an event has happened and, you know, only show a portion of the actual event.

CONAN: Should that happen, and should it become an issue, presumably that videotape could be the original could be subpoenaed and the whole version of it shown.

Mr. MACHADO: Again, in my experience, in my own police department, and of course here in Massachusetts, videotape has more often than not exonerated the police rather than implicated them.

CONAN: Well, James Machado, we apologize for the quality of the telephone line, but we appreciate your taking the time to speak with us today. Thank you very much.

Mr. MACHADO: Thank you, bye-bye.

CONAN: James Machado, executive director of the Massachusetts Police Association, with us on we apologize again, for the quality of the telephone line from Baltimore. And Radley Balko, his point seems to be valid. Most of the time, you would think police officers would be in favor of this.

Mr. BALKO: Yeah. And this is actually one reason why I'm a little perplexed by a lot of police organizations' opposition to allowing this sort of mass videotaping of police by citizens, and that is, you know, most cops are good cops, and most of them do, you know, want to protect the public and follow the rules, and those cops are going to be protected.

If there are more citizens out there, they're going to be protected from false reports if there are lots of people out there with cameras, recording these events.

CONAN: Carlos Miller was arrested for photographing police officers making an arrest. He now runs a blog devoted to collecting stories of people who are similar who have similar stories, and he posts their videos and their photographs. Today, he joins us from member station WLRN in Miami. Nice of you to be with us today.

Mr. CARLOS MILLER: Thank you. Thank you for having me on.

CONAN: And what was your situation when you were arrested?

Mr. MILLER: Well, I was just taking still photos for an article I was working on, and these officers did not want to be photographed. They told me that this was a private matter, they were making an arrest, and they told me to walk away.

And I told them it was a public road, and I continued taking their photo, and I was arrested and charged with nine misdemeanors.

CONAN: And what was the resolution?

Mr. MILLER: Well, I ended up taking it to court. I was acquitted of all charges. I was convicted of resisting arrest without violence, which I appealed, and I beat that, pro se. So I was cleared of all charges.

CONAN: Cleared of all charges, and you've since started this agency that collects all these how did that happen?

Mr. MILLER: Well, I initially started a blog to document my own case, and it morphed into what it is now, because this is a big problem, and people were sending me their stories and their tips and news links from their regions, of similar incidents. So I just kept documenting that.

And three years later, I have this blog that's very nationally recognized, and it's ongoing, and I don't even write half of what's really going on.

CONAN: So you people send you these videos and these photographs, and you post it for them?

Mr. MILLER: Yes, well, I do some research on it, and I try to make a news article about it and just try to put some perspective into the situation.

CONAN: And just given our conversation with James Machado of the Massachusetts Police Association, do how often do videos exonerate the police officers?

Mr. MILLER: Well, I mean, actually not many times, well, I mean, not that I've seen. I mean, I don't really document those because what happens is police officers have credibility just in their words. So I'm sure there are a few times.

But I do want to point out what James said. He was saying that audio is not legal in Massachusetts. But the law says I just wrote an article this week about a couple of gentlemen who were arrested in Massachusetts for a wiretapping charge, where they were openly videotaping these officers in Franklin County, and they were arrested.

But the law specifically says you have to secretly record these officers, or somebody, to become a victim, they have to be secretly recorded. And what's happening in these cases is people are opening they're holding their camera up high. I mean, they're very obvious about what they're doing. It's in public. So there's no secret. So it's really there's really no basis.

CONAN: I'm not a lawyer, but there may be some issue of consent here, which is not implied consent, just because you're holding, you can see the camera.

Mr. MILLER: No, no, there's no consent in public. I mean, there I mean, when you're in public, there's no consent, and it's just the whole the law in Massachusetts specifically says you have to secretly record, and that's it.

So I mean, when you're when someone's openly holding a camera, filming what's happening in public, I mean, that's that person already knows they're being recorded.

CONAN: All right. Let's get another caller in on the conversation. This is Rick(ph), and Rick is with us from Madison in Florida.

RICK (Caller): Hi, thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Sure.

RICK: Yeah, I just wanted to offer a law enforcement officer's perspective as a prior law enforcement officer in Oklahoma. We utilized recordings in our traffic stops, and due to the complications of how the recordings were being utilized, we only were allowed to record them for the purposes of protecting ourselves against false accusations and false allegations from the general public.

We weren't allowed to use them as evidence in a prosecution because of the perceived difficulty in violating their rights with the camera. And I just was wondering if your guests would be able to...

CONAN: So their expectation of privacy that would have been violated by presenting the video as evidence, Radley Balko?

Mr. BALKO: I'm sure this varies by state. I'm pretty familiar with the law in Maryland, and there, the attorney general issued an opinion, I think it was in 2000, stating that these dash cameras do not violate the rights of motorists, as long as the officer informs them at the beginning of a stop that they're being recorded.

You cannot revoke your consent, but once they inform you that you're being recorded, that apparently applies at the wiretapping law. But again, I mean, the way some prosecutors in the state are interpreting the law, your you have no right to privacy once the officer tells you that it's being recorded, but if you try to record the traffic stop with your own device, you could be facing a felony charge actually, not just for the recording, but also for use of the device that you use to make the recording in the first place.

CONAN: Rick, was there any provision like that when you were working as an officer in Oklahoma?

RICK: They didn't show too much concern about the actual act of recording, at least from a law enforcement officer's perspective. It was more an issue of how do you use that recording. You know, if you're going to use it, you know, to prosecute or use it, you know, as a way of trying to I mean, I think they even thought there might have been some difficulties in maybe being interpreted as an unlawful search and seizure modality, you know, if you record something going on there. And so we were restricted only to use it as to protect ourselves from false allegation.

CONAN: All right, Rick, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

RICK: Yup.

CONAN: We've gotten several people with this question. This one happens to be from Jim(ph) in Phoenix. Do these laws apply to members of the media? Also, can you tell us which jurisdictions have such laws? And I think you've already said the states, Radley Balko.

Mr. BALKO: Yeah, I mean, in most cases, the law does apply to the media. There have been a couple of cases of journalists who were arrested for recording police officers. In this case, it's usually surreptitiously that they go after journalists because I think it's more of a PR headache to go after a journalist than a non-journalist citizen.

But also, I wanted to make one point, getting back to the dash cameras. The previous caller's point actually applies in a different sort of scenario, and that's when the dash camera actually reveals some sort of police wrongdoing, or there's a civil rights suit alleging some sort of police wrongdoing.

It can be very, very difficult for the person alleging the wrongdoing to get a copy of the dash camera. In fact, there was a settlement in Prince George's County, Maryland - again, we go back to Maryland...

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. BALKO: ...just last year where a local journalist was alleging that she was inappropriately treated by some police officer during an arrest. And there were seven police cruisers from Prince George's County, all of them outfitted with dash cameras. That particular department is required by the federal government to have dash cameras because of some prior misconduct. All seven cameras apparently malfunctioned at the same time during this particular encounter.

CONAN: I wonder, Carlos Miller, have - the videos that you got, have any of them come from journalists?

Mr. MILLER: Some citizen journalists, but no journalist from the mainstream media.

CONAN: Okay. So they're citizen journalists. Let's get another caller in. This is Don(ph), Don with us from Fort Myers.

DON (Caller): Well, hello.

CONAN: Hi, Don. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.

DON: Thank you. I just - I'm a retired policeman from Virginia. I - it's been my personal opinion that dash cameras are actually a good thing.

CONAN: What about if you were in the process of making an arrest and somebody is standing on the opposite street corner recording what's going on?

DON: Well, no, I have no problem with that whatsoever. I think it should be actually encouraged.

CONAN: Could you turn your radio down, Don? It's very distracting.

DON: Sure.

CONAN: There we go. And now...

DON: I'm sorry.

CONAN: So you would have no problem if somebody was recording you in the process of making an arrest?

DON: Not at all. There's - all this talk nowadays about transparency of government. And like it or not, the police represent the government.

CONAN: Indeed, they do. Well - and...

DON: They should have - should not have any expectation of separate privacy.

CONAN: All right. Don, thanks...

DON: And having that camera on you while you're conducting an arrest, is kind of a general reminder to make sure you conduct yourself properly.

CONAN: It's interesting. We have an email on that point from Victoria(ph) in Rochester, New York. I'm not a lawyer and I cannot understand the laws in this. However, I think the police and the attorneys general are making a big mistake to go after citizens recording them in public places. If they treat the public as enemies for recording events on telephones or cameras, then they can hardly turn around and ask us to cooperate and support police and other law enforcement officials. If they want the public on their side, they should think carefully about this.

Don, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.

DON: Well, thank you for taking the call.

CONAN: Bye-bye. We're talking about cops and cameras. Our guests are Radley Balko, a senior editor with Reason magazine. And Carlos Miller, who was arrested for photographing police making arrest, and now runs a blog devoted to collecting stories of people who have similarly been arrested as well as their videos and photos.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION coming to you from NPR News.

And let's see if we get another story. Shane(ph), Shane with us from Battle Creek in Michigan.

SHANE (Caller): Hi.

CONAN: Hi, Shane.

SHANE: Hi. Recently, I've always walked around with a camera when I go to any event or large event. But the most recent, last year, we were coming back from a large event and we got separated from one of our friends. And when we got back to the van, an unmarked state vehicle pulled up. And a state trooper got out and said that our friend had a warrant out for his arrest. And that he'd given them $100 out of his wallet and that we needed to go to an ATM and withdraw $900 to give to them on the spot so that we could get our friend out. And I pulled out the camera and asked him just very politely to repeat exactly what he just requested of us. And he seemed very agitated. He let our friend out right away. And we knew the whole time that all of our wallets were locked in the van.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

SHANE: So we knew something was going on. And I completely believe that you should not be able to harass police or put the camera in their face or - you know, just be polite and aggressive. It keeps them honest, like with the whole callers prior talking about cameras mysteriously malfunctioning.

CONAN: Right.

SHANE: It keeps the good old boy - being in the military, I know everybody watches their back. It keeps the good old boy system from, you know, running wild and it protects us as citizens.

CONAN: Carlos Miller, this sounds more like one of your citizen photographers.

Mr. MILLER: Yes, sir.

CONAN: Shane, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.

SHANE: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's see if we go next to - this is George(ph), George with us from Cleveland.

GEORGE (Caller): Hi, Neal. Thanks for having me on. I just wanted to tell a story. I'm a police officer here. And just a few months ago, I stopped a guy and ended up making - pulling him out of his car to make an arrest. But after I had him out of the car, the - another policeman going through the car found a hidden camera that had been recording. And the policeman who found it was agitated and came back and showed it to me and said that I've been being recorded all the time. And it never bothered me. And I just said, well, I've been recording him all the time with my dash cam, so I guess we're even.

But the other policeman really got irritated that there was a camera there. And I just think if we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, then people can have at it and record whatever they want. And when we mistakes, then shame on us.

CONAN: And I wonder, does the - almost everybody has got a video camera in their pocket, their cell phone, their smart phone, whatever. Does their presence around, your knowledge that so many people have video cameras, does that - you know, hey, here's a reminder, be on the straight and narrow.

GEORGE: Well, yeah, it is. What is a big reminder for me is I use the dash camera and have the microphone. It's attached to my uniform. So I see that on all the time and I remember that if I'm starting to get agitated or starting to get irritated by someone, just to be professional and be polite, and it will work itself out. The tape will be - the tape will show my side of it nicely.

CONAN: I wonder, there have also been some suggestions that the next step would be to put a little - one of those little, you know, tiny lipstick cameras on your hat or your helmet.

GEORGE: They exist and officers at my department use them. They use it. They attach it on the shirt of their uniforms.

CONAN: And has - for the purpose of making sure that the - they can show their side of the story?

GEORGE: Yeah. It's all - I don't care much about the evidence of it. It's very handy when someone comes in to file a complaint. And then, you can just tell the chief or our shift's commander, well, I have it all on videotape. And every single time someone has filed a complaint and I have that camera running, it's - I've been exonerated.

CONAN: George, well, thank you very much for the call. Appreciate it.

GEORGE: Thanks for having me.

CONAN: Bye-bye. And, Radley Balko, obviously, we just have a few seconds left, but it sounds like states have to come to - legislatures, for the most part, and police jurisdictions have to come to some understanding of where this is going and how to write up laws about it.

Mr. BALKO: You know, I think they sort of need to recognize reality. I think it's already been accepted by both police - individual officers and citizens that this is where things are going. You know, there's technology now where if you have an iPhone or a Droid, you can not only take video but you can instantly stream the video to a server that's offsite. So even if you're phone is confiscated or broken, the video is stored in a safe place where it can't be tampered with.

So I think lawmakers really need to sort of get on the ball with this and make it, you know, clear that there is a right to - for citizens to keep police officers accountable and transparent.

CONAN: Radley Balko, thanks very much for your time today.

Mr. BALKO: Thanks for having me on.

CONAN: Radley Balko of Reason magazine. We'd also like to thank Carlos Miller who was - now runs a blog devoted to collecting stories of people who have been arrested for photographing the police. He joined us from member station WLRN in Miami. Thanks very much for your time today.

Mr. MILLER: Thank you for having me on.

CONAN: Coming up, the $100 million kid, LeBron James. Stay with us. This is NPR News.

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