Why recording the police isn't illegal and is actually a good idea

A recent incident involving an Uber driver and police officer is a reminder of the value of filming police encounters.

A recent incident involving a Wilmington police officer and an Uber driver is a good opportunity to remind drivers across North Carolina about what their rights are when they are stopped by police. As the News & Observer reports, when the Uber driver, who also works as a criminal defense attorney, was pulled over during a traffic stop, he began filming the police officer. On the video the police officer falsely claims that filming him is illegal and then continues to search the driver's vehicle without his consent. In fact, filming police officers is not only legal, it is something that people who are pulled over are encouraged to do in order to protect their rights.

A nonexistent law

The Uber driver was pulled over after dropping off and picking up a passenger at what police claimed was a suspected drug house. The driver was then pulled over and immediately began filming the officer. The officer told him to stop filming, to which the driver refused, rightly noting that it was his right to film the officer.

The officer then tried to claim that it was illegal to film a police officer, something that the deputy who was also at the scene claimed. Unfortunately for both officers, the Uber driver was also a criminal defense attorney and knew that no such law against filming police officers existed. Nonetheless, the Uber driver was ordered out of his car. He, his passenger, and his vehicle were searched without his permission, which, he claims, was another clear violation of his constitutional rights.

Why filming officers is important

After the video of the incident was given to the media, the police department confirmed that there is no law against filming officers and that they actually "invite" people to do it. An internal investigation into the incident has also been launched.

In this case, it was a fortunate coincidence that the driver who was pulled over was an attorney and knew what his rights were. It is easy to imagine, however, that many other drivers in such a situation would simply take the officer's word as fact and stop filming. As the Washington Post points out, however, filming police officers during a traffic stop is beneficial to citizens in order to make sure that the officer does not try to gain control of the narrative later on in court. Filming police helps ensure that those officers respect the constitutional rights of the people they interact with. If nothing else, the above incident will hopefully remind both police and the public about the value of filming police encounters.

Criminal defense

For those who have been charged with a criminal offense or with a traffic violation, the experience can often be an overwhelming and frustrating one. However, a criminal defense attorney can help. With an experienced attorney at one's side, those facing criminal charges will have the representation they need to help uphold their rights and fight for their freedom.