Advisory – Video Recording of Police

Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham Arrested While Hiking With Son for Rudely Displaying Rifle
Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham Arrested While Hiking With Son for Rudely Displaying Rifle
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Montana Shooting Sports Association

Missoula, MT –-( I am seeing more reports of people being arrested and charged with various crimes (e.g., wiretapping, obstruction, etc.) for video recording police in public places, or during Open Carry demonstrations. All reports from states other than Montana.

So, I sent an email to a contact at the Montana Department of Justice and asked what advice MT DoJ gives to police officers and agencies about video recording (or audio recording, I suppose) police in public places in Montana.

Here is the reply I received:

Here is a little bit on how we train law enforcement on the issue you asked about in your email. The Montana Law Enforcement Academy trains on this issue quite a bit. Students are told very sternly that citizens have the right to photograph and video tape officers and to not interfere with these types of acts. The exception is if the person videotaping is in such close proximately to the event that it would impede the officers efforts or create a hazard or risk to the situation. Even in those instance officers are trained to explain to the person why this is impeding or interfering and ask them to move to another location so as to not create a hazard.

So just to clarify, the act of videoing an incident alone does not mean a person would be arrested. To rise to a level of obstruction of justice, the person videoing must be actually interfering with the investigation or arrest. So videoing is not on illegal on its face or even a gray area.

Interesting! Good to know.

Generally, the courts reviewing these situations in other states have held that when police are doing their public job in public places they have no expectation of privacy.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author,  Gun Laws of Montana

About Montana Shooting Sports Association:MSSA is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners. Visit:

  • 4 thoughts on “Advisory – Video Recording of Police

    1. The answer given was way open to interpretation by the officers being tapped. All they would have to say is, “It impeded my ability to do my job…”

    2. These officers have a problem with the public,
      they are in the wrong line of work.

      If they can record me then I can record them.
      It works both ways.

      Some states consider recording as ‘wiretapping’, applying the wrong law to modern technology.

    3. Why do police officers in the state of Oregon keep telling people that they will be arrested if they video or audio tape them while they are working? I cannot find a law in Ore that says you can be arrested for taping a police officer while he is at work.

    4. I was shocked to look in the local police reports in the Chicago area and see that they were charging people with video recording again even though the courts have consistantly ruled that people have a right to record in public. This will likely be appealed but I can’t imagine it would be any fun to go through the legal hastle.

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