Legal expert confirms you have right to tape police - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Legal expert confirms you have right to tape police

Tear gas is dispersed at a TV crew in Ferguson. (Cropped photo credit: Screen capture WDAF/MGN Online) Tear gas is dispersed at a TV crew in Ferguson. (Cropped photo credit: Screen capture WDAF/MGN Online)
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri have been telling reporters documenting continued unrest in their city to stop videotaping or photographing officers on the scene. 

Legal analyst Mark McDaniel weighed in on what your rights are: whether you’re covering the news or whether you want to record an interaction with a police officer.

“Certainly you have the right to make any recording you want to,” McDaniel said.

It is legal for any person to record the actions of a police officer. If police ask you to stop recording, you can inform them it infringes on your constitutional rights. Police also cannot take your phone without probable cause or a warrant.

“Police can get a search warrant and search the contents of your phone,” McDaniel said. “But they don’t have a right just to seize your phone and search it without any probable cause - this is America.”

A Fraternal Order of Police leader said it keeps officers honest, but it can also make their jobs harder.

"Everybody that has a cell phone has a video camera," said Bill Davis. "The only thing I can say is it's a lot tougher now in this day and time because everyone is so quick to scrutinize everything that's done."

Agencies such as the Athens Police and Madison County Sheriff's Departments have been equipping officers with body cameras in order to protect law enforcement and members of the public alike.

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