E-Newsletter Edition: April 18, 2007
Always note that state law may be more restrictive on police power than the U.S. Constitution.
“What (if any) legal issues are encountered by surreptitiously recording (audio) subjects when they are making a complaint about an officer? In California it is ok to Surreptitiously tape if it is a criminal investigation. It’s been suggested that any conversation with a police officer allows no expectations of privacy and thus surreptitious taping ought to be permissible. Your thoughts?.”
Responding to the question on the citizen complaint recording.
We recommend that these initial complaints be recorded for two reasons. First it ensures that we document the exact allegations; secondly it can assist the assigned investigator with the citizen’s demeanor and possible motivation. Of course, if it’s done with specific notice to the citizen, there’s no problem. The question posed, however, depends on several factors. The first is the law in the specific state. In Florida, as an example, it requires agreement from both parties. Some other states allow only one party, with some limitations. The issue of expectation of privacy is a valid point. Cases have allowed recording subjects, who are not arrested but placed in the rear of a police car, to be recorded without notice and that was upheld. Recorded phone lines within a police station would, in most cases, be allowed even without notice. If it’s done in an interview room, I believe the same would be correct. Now if that were done in a private person’s house, car or business, it would depend on the law within the state. The exception for criminal investigation would not be reasonable.