The NYPD Patrol Guide Section 212-49 states that “Members of the service will not interfere with the videotaping or the photographing of incidents in public places. Intentional interference such as blocking or obstructing cameras or harassing the photographer constitutes censorship.”
I was told by another officer while in the car that recording a police officer was illegal because people are using iPhones as guns and shooting cops through the camera lens...I told him that I have the right to be recording a cop and he said that there were incidents, specifically in uptown Manhattan where a kid shot a cop with his iPhone. Straight face. Very serious.
Paybarah was jailed at Central Booking for 13 hours that day, and though he was originally pulled over for running a red light, he was also charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, and criminal mischief. He had his court date this week, and was sentenced to one day community service (and he'll have the arrest purged from his record if he isn't arrested again in the next six months).
Asked about Paybarah's experience, NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman says, “New Yorkers have a constitutional right to film police activity in public. Cell phone cameras empower people to expose police abuse and hold law enforcement accountable when it violates people’s rights." Last year the NYCLU released a free smartphone app that lets users record police interactions and submit them to the organization in real time.
Paybarah adds that he's an avid biker (and used to be a bike messenger), but this is only the second time he's had a run-in with the law: "The only other time I was pulled over on my bike was for...get ready for it...Speeding. I was speeding on my bike. When I went to court for the summons, a clerk looked at the summons and dismissed my case."
Contact the author of this article or email firstname.lastname@example.org with further questions, comments or tips.