Another day, another ridiculous and disingenuous bill from the Texas legislature. State Rep. Jason Villalba has submitted a bill that would greatly restrict the right of individuals to record police officers making an arrest, something that has proven irreplaceable in discovering misconduct and brutality.
The House Bill 2918 introduced by Texas Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) would make private citizens photographing or recording the police within 25 feet of them a class B misdemeanor, and those who are armed would not be able to stand recording within 100 feet of an officer.
As defined in the bill, only a radio or television that holds a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, a newspaper that is qualified under section 2051.044 or a magazine that appears at a regular interval would be allowed to record police.
“(My bill) just asks filmers to stand back a little so as to not interfere with law enforcement,” said Villalba.
But if it’s actually about not wanting people around to possibly interfere with law enforcement, why not include those with press credentials? And if you’re going to allow radio and television stations, why not newspapers and magazines as well? This is quite inconsistent. Is there any evidence whatsoever that observers who are not licensed by the FCC are routinely or even occasionally interfering with a crime scene? If they genuinely are doing so, they can be arrested. Of course, we know of lots and lots of situations where the police have arrested people on that premise only to have the video show they were doing no such thing and the police were lying (stop me if you’ve heard that one before).
We all know what this is really all about. It’s very unlikely that a radio or TV station is going to be able to get to a scene to film an arrest situation, but much more likely that someone with a cell phone walking by will be able to film it. The goal and the result of this bill is to make it far less likely that the police will be caught engaging in abuse, brutality or misconduct.