Initiating the latest edition in a series of cases involving the practice of Philadelphia police officers to arrest citizens who video or record police in the performance of their duties, KRMF partner Jonathan Feinberg along with lawyers from the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Langer, Grogan & Diver have filed suit on behalf of Temple University student, Richard Fields. As explained in the Complaint and as reported on local NPR affiliate, WHYY, Mr. Fields was stopped, detained and charged for the simple act of recording officers who appeared to be breaking up a party near the Temple campus.
Remarkably, Mr. Fields’ arrest came nearly two years after Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey issued a widely publicized policy memorandum instructing police that they should expect to be recorded in the performance of their duties. Because the Department had notice of repeated violations of this policy, including a communication from the civilian-operated Police Advisory Commission, Mr. Fields’ Complaint alleges that his arrest is the direct result of the City’s failure to properly train, supervise and discipline its officers concerning the First Amendment rights of citizens to record police.
The case will now proceed to discovery, which will allow for investigation of the City’s practices in instructing officers to comply with Departmental policies concerning the right to record.