When a Texas lawmaker decided to push for a new legislation that would set up a 25-foot buffer zone around police who are engaged, the politician was met with a lot of skepticism from the public.
Jason Villalba is recently trying to set up a new bill called HB 2918, and if the new legislation were to pass it would make it a misdemeanor charge to photograph any police officers from a 25-foot distance.
One side of the argument for those who oppose Villalba is that they feel the Dallas area politician is dismissing the first amendment, while also getting rid of the public’s ability to hold police forces accountable for their actions.
William Jacobson, professor and director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell University Law School, told FoxNews.com, “It’s very disturbing that you would have an arbitrary and significant buffer zone that would absolutely apply regardless of the circumstances. The mere act of videotaping cannot be deemed an obstruction. “This is an attempt to prevent people from videotaping police and that you can’t just arbitrarily do.” Villalba continued to say, “acting in plain view and videotaping in such a manner that does not impede the officer’s ability to perform his or her duties.”
Villalba responded to these remarks on a local news program called, “Inside Texas Politics,” where he stated, All we’re saying is provide police a halo. Give them a little room. We’re not saying don’t film. We’re not saying stop. We’re saying just step back a little bit,” pretty much assuring the public that he is not against videotaping police on location, but is merely insisting that they are given enough room.
Charley Wilkison, the executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, has also expressed that this bill will be more harmful than helpful stating, “CLEAT has no sympathy for those who seek to harass and interfere with police officers while they’re doing their jobs,” but continued to state, We have very real concerns that this bill could have the effect of limiting the discretion that officers need based on the situation they happen to be facing.”
Wilkson then continued to tell FoxNews.com, “Current Texas law gives the discretion to the officer working the scene to handle it within the guidelines of his/her general order. Current law gives more complete legal authority over police actions at a scene to the trained licensed law enforcement officers. By setting arbitrary distance standards, the bill will allow citizens to get dangerously close to officers and suspects in potentially volatile situations. Those arbitrary distances could also compromise the privacy rights of children and other vulnerable members of society. Texas law enforcement officers are highly trained and highly capable. Let’s respect their experience and trust their judgment when it comes to enforcing the law and keeping the public safe. Any unneeded tinkering with the law is risky and unnecessary.”
Content Photo – AP