Weatherford Democrat

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March 6, 2013

Estes files ‘Freedom to Film Act’

Bill confirms the legality of filming, photographing and observing the police

AUSTIN – State Sen. Craig Estes on Tuesday announced his filing of Senate Bill 897, also known as the “Freedom to Film Act,” which will secure every citizen’s right to film and document the police without being harassed.

In recent years, as more and more people have started carrying smartphones, there has been a disturbing trend nationwide of citizens being harassed by law enforcement for filming, photographing, and recording law enforcement officers.

Unfortunately, multiple incidents have occurred in Texas where citizens were told to stop filming the police, even though filming the police is perfectly legal.

 SB 897 seeks to clarify that a citizen is perfectly within their legal right to film police officers during the course of their normal duties.

Specifically, if a citizen is charged with interference with public duties, failure to obey the police, or assaulting an officer and is subsequently acquitted, the citizen may recover the costs of defending the frivolous charges.

 “My hope is that this bill will cause our police departments to think twice before arresting and charging a person who is doing nothing more than filming the police,” said Estes, R-Wichita Falls, whose district includes Parker County. “The police are public servants, so they should not be doing anything that they would not want caught on film.”

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