December 19, 2016
Contact: Daniel J. Klau
The New Haven Independent reported last week that one of its reporters was arrested for taking photographs, in a public setting, of New Haven Police Department officers while in the performance of their professional duties. The police allege that the reporter had violated a perimeter around a potential crime scene, but no police tape or other barriers had been erected. Further, when police asked him to move, the reporter responded and was in the process of backing away from the scene when police arrested him and took his camera.
The police have a difficult job to do. They protect the public under difficult circumstances and often a great personal risk, for which we owe them our gratitude. However, the First Amendment protects the right of all persons, journalists included, to take photographs of police officers performing their duties in public settings, as long as the journalists do not interfere with the crime scene or the officers’ work. A Connecticut statute also protects journalists under these circumstances. The recent arrest of the journalist raises serious questions about whether the New Haven Police Department takes these constitutional and statutory rights seriously.
We respectfully urge the New Haven Police Department to evaluate its handling of the incident in question and to publicly affirm its commitment to protecting cherished First Amendment rights, including those of working journalists.
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CCFOI has been serving the public since 1955. Daniel J. Klau, president; Zachary Janowski, vice president; Mary Connolly, secretary; George Lombardi, treasurer.