The Oregon legislature has made it clear the public has the right to openly record police by passing HB 2704. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk.
June 16, 2015 - Bystander video of police encounters can be very powerful, as recent events have shown. We can all agree it should not be a crime to pull out a phone, hold it up, and record an officer who is engaged in misconduct. However, under the current Oregon law, it is a crime to record a conversation without "specifically informing" the parties to the conversation. The problem is obvious — it may not always be safe or reasonable to provide a warning; for example, when the officer is engaged in misconduct or if the officer is dealing with a dangerous situation. When the Governor signs HB 2704 into law, the right to openly record police will be protected in Oregon.
Over 1,700 ACLU supporters took action on this issue by contacting their legislators in Salem. Together, our voices were heard! Thank you to everyone who took a stand for the right to film police in Oregon.
HB 2704 fixes the unconstitutionality of Oregon’s eavesdropping statute by adding the following exemption: “A person who openly and in plain view records a law enforcement officer speaking at a volume that is audible by normal unaided hearing while the officer is performing official duties and the person recording is in a place where the person lawfully may be.”
This exemption simply changes the requirement that an individual “specifically inform” the officer to a requirement that the individual record “openly and in plain view.” “Openly” commonly means “without concealment, deception, or prevarication, especially where these might be expected.”
HB 2704 protects the right to record, but will not:
• Prevent officers from securing crime scenes or lawfully ordering people to step away from police activity.
• Give anyone special rights to trespass, harass or interfere with police.
• Allow secret recording of police.