ACLU: Baltimore police cannot stop people from recording them

BALTIMORE - Baltimore police cannot stop people from recording them while they are working in a public area as part of an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The agreement comes almost four years after city police confiscated a cell phone and deleted photos and videos from a man who was recording officers as they arrested a female acquaintance at Pimlico Racetrack at the 2010 Preakness.

The lawsuit was brought more than two years ago, on behalf of Christopher Sharp, whose settlement was approved Wednesday by the Baltimore City Board of Estimates. As part of the settlement, the police have formally apologized in writing to Sharp, will pay him $25,000 and reimburse Sharp’s counsel $225,000 for a portion of the costs and legal fees incurred during the litigation.

Other key aspects of the agreement include:
• Baltimore police will adopt a new policy that recognizes citizens’ rights to record officers while they perform their official duties in public and other places where people have the right to be.
• Baltimore police will institute training on the new policy and on people recording in general. The settlement agreement also requires several hours training initially with annual follow up training.

The incident that led to the lawsuit occurred on May 15, 2010, during which Sharp was detained and harangued by officers after he recorded the incident, with the officers demanding that he surrender his cell phone as “evidence.”

Sharp initially declined, but handed over the phone as he feared being arrested. The police then deleted the videos and all other videos it contained – including videos of his young son at sporting events and birthday parties – before returning the phone to Sharp. 

Sharp v BPD Final Signed Agreement

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