You're on camera: How police should respond to a 'First Amendment audit'

Individuals are filming police buildings and officers as part of a “First Amendment audit"; here’s how cops should respond

By Commander Kevin Baysinger and Sergeant Michael Thomas, P1 Contributors

As law enforcement officers, we are obligated to enforce laws and statutes during the course of our duties. We must also realize that our own behavior and actions are governed by the same laws we are sworn to uphold. We are currently seeing a trend of people filming law enforcement – often referred to as a “First Amendment audit” – which is then posted online. During these “audits,” people film police buildings and officers. Once contacted, they can become aggressive, challenging and often seek to be detained by law enforcement while they are filming so they can post the video of the encounter online.


The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects a person’s freedom of speech. Freedom of speech not only means words that are spoken, but also includes actions and expressions. Examples of this could be photographing, videotaping or protesting by holding up a sign.


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