Smile, Mr. Officer – Can You Legally Video Police Stops In Texas?
It's a question that's been asked many times over the years, ever since smartphones became popular. Is it legal to video police interactions like traffic stops in Texas? There's some confusion here since some police officers order recordings to be stopped, even though you're well within your rights to keep rolling.
Let's face it, transparency in law enforcement is growing in Texas, and the act of recording police interactions has become more and more common. It's important to understand not only your rights but also the limitations before you press record.
SMILE, MR. OFFICER - CAN YOU LEGALLY RECORD POLICE STOPS IN TEXAS?
The Answer to the Big Question
The Webb Firm legal website is quick to answer. In short, yes, you can video any police interaction. As long as you're not preventing or interfering with the officer's ability to do his or her job, it's perfectly legal to video and take photographs. This also includes interactions with firefighters and EMS.
Some Things to Keep In Mind
- You can video anything in plain public view, including the police.
- You can video on private property. However, the property owner has the right to call you out for trespassing and have you leave the premises. Use caution.
- In most cases, police cannot confiscate your smartphone or recording device unless they have a warrant, even if you're being arrested.
- Police cannot delete videos or photos. Be sure to clearly state that you do not give consent for the police to look through your device.
- Police do have the authority to order a recording to be stopped if it in any way prevents law enforcement work.
Keep those cameras rolling. The state of Texas realizes the importance of accountability and the right to document law enforcement in public spaces. Although you may be able to record the encounter, it's a smart idea to exercise caution and respect the job of law enforcement.
The law in Texas is out there to protect one and all. However, there are some laws that it's hard to believe are still being enforced. Take a quick look below to see what I mean.