Memo to police: Don’t arrest people for taking your picture

Nearly two months after several people accused Memphis Police officers of violating their right to lawfully record the officers in public, the Commercial Appeal reports that the Memphis Police Department has released an official policy instructing officers not to interfere with civilians or their cameras.

This is the first time the department has released such a policy and comes after two incidents in October that drew widespread criticism against the officers who ordered the civilians to stop filming, confiscated their cellphones, and arrested them.

The policy, signed by Police Director Toney Armstrong, appears to have been distributed internally on Tuesday and was distributed to the media Thursday.

“The Memphis Police Department recognizes that members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record MPD members” while they are performing their duties in public spaces “unless such recordings interfere with police activity.”

In both of the October incidents, bystanders who refused to stop filming the police were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.