The decision by police in three states to use a law meant to protect citizens from being recorded without their knowledge as a means to prohibit the filming or photographing of on-duty police officers has chilling implications for both the news media and the public at large.

Thankfully, Maine’s Legislature has refrained from changing the state laws regarding the recording of citizens either in public or private cases.

Maine is known as a single-party consent state, requiring that only one person in the loop  being recorded know a recording is taking place.

But Massachusetts, Illinois and Maryland have laws to prohibit recording citizens without their consent, either over the phone or in person. These laws are being creatively interpreted by police in some cases to suggest filming officers, especially in the act of effecting an arrest, should be prohibited without the officer’s consent.

This would apply even in a case where the footage or recording might be used in the defense of a person charged with a crime by police.

Were these laws in effect in all states, notorious cases of police abuse, such as the case involving Rodney King and the Los Angeles police department, would go largely unchecked.

This re-interpretation of the law essentially allows police to arrest anybody, including news media, who film or record them on duty — be they performing their duties within the law or not.

According to a recent report in the online magazine Gizmodo, a judge in Illinois rejected a motion to dismiss a charge of eavesdropping against an artist charged by Chicago police for recording his own arrest for the most heinous crime of selling his artwork on the streets of the city for $1.

Maine’s police community hasn’t asked for a law change, nor is it considering asking for one, according the Maine Department of Public Safety Spokesman Stephen McCausland.

It’s not even on the radar screen, according to McCausland, who said the laws that are already on the books allow police the protection they need to do their jobs.

“There’s no discussion on this that I’ve heard of, period,” McCausland said.

That aside, the idea that law officers, dutifully and presumably doing their work for the public and in the public eye is still viewed as being in the best interests of both law enforcement and citizens at large.

Lewiston’s Deputy Police Chief Jim Minkowsky, speaking as an individual and not for the department,  said the advice for police is to always perform your duties as though you are being watched and recorded — because you probably are.

“Our belief is in 100 percent transparency,” Minkowsky said. “Operate as though you are being filmed at any time. The more transparent we are,  the more public trust we have.”

“This is the United States of America,” Minkowsky said. “A free country, and the reality is we work for the people. We absolutely have nothing to hide and should never have anything to hide.”

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