Police Policy Backs Federal Guidelines

Justin Pazera

Police Policy Backs Federal Guidelines

CREATED Mar. 26, 2013

Omaha, NE - Last Thursday, a neighbor took cell phone video of what some are calling excessive force showing Omaha Police taking down a suspect. The man's brother stood nearby and used a camera to record the entire incident. When police told him to stay on the sidewalk Juaquez Johnson ran into his home. Police followed him, and he says they took his camera.

We checked with area departments regarding their policies on videotaping officers. On Tuesday morning, the La Vista Police Department reinforced to its officers a policy put in place last year. It basically backs up federal law that allows citizens to record a police officer while they're working. "We were noticing an increase in contacts between the public and officers as far as videotaping and photographing them," said Captain. DJ Barcal with La Vista Police.

In June 2012, the department implemented a policy outlining how an officer should respond if that happens and when the camera could be taken.The Douglas County Sheriff's Office implemented its policy last year spelling out no member of the sheriff's office "may prevent or prohibit any person's ability to observe, photograph and/or make a video recording" of an officer. La Vista says its policy comes in handy. "Recently where an officer was on a traffic stop and noticed that the passenger was recording the entire traffic stop which we understand now through policy and training that they're in the right to do that." said Barcal.

The Nebraska ACLU believes this issue is so serious it wrote a letter last year to every law enforcement department in the state, urging to implement policy to protect First Amendment Rights. The organization says it received complaints across the state. Action 3 News asked Sarpy County and Bellevue along with Pottawattamie County and as of now, those departments do not have a written policy in place but rely on training and federal law.


The Omaha Police Department says it does have a similar policy.The police chief says the department is investigating to see if officers violated any policy or personal rights.