New Louisiana Law Makes It Illegal To Approach A Police Officer Engaged In Executing Their Duties

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, May 30, 2024 - 09:20 PM

A new law in Louisiana makes it illegal to approach a police officer within 25 feet in certain situations, ostensibly the state's way of keeping officers executing their duties free from swarms of woke camera-wielding liberals offering up their scholarly legal takes in the midst of official business. 

Critics argue that the new law, criminalizing approaching a police officer within 25 feet under certain conditions could restrict the public's ability to film police, a key method for ensuring accountability.

The law, which takes effect on August 1, imposes penalties of up to $500 and/or 60 days in jail for those convicted of knowingly or intentionally nearing an officer after being told to stop. Although the law does not explicitly mention filming, opponents contend it could interfere with observational rights and potentially violate First Amendment freedoms.

Those advocating for the law say it would "create a buffer-zone to help ensure the safety of officers and that bystanders would still be close enough to film police interactions," according to AP.

AP notes that cellphone videos by bystanders, notably in cases like George Floyd's 2020 death, have been pivotal in highlighting police misconduct and prompting discussions on police transparency.

Similar legislative efforts to restrict filming distances have been seen, such as a 2022 Arizona law that tried to ban filming police within 8 feet upon request, which was blocked by a federal judge as unconstitutional after challenges from media groups and the ACLU. This ruling underscored the established right to film police in action.

The author of the measure, State Rep. Bryan Fontenot, said: “At 25 feet, that person can’t spit in my face when I’m making an arrest. The chances of him hitting me in the back of the head with a beer bottle at 25 feet — it sure is a lot more difficult than if he’s sitting right here.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has spoken out against the law: “Each of us has a constitutional right to freely observe public servants as they function in public and within the course and scope of their official duties."

He added: “Observations of law enforcement, whether by witnesses to an incident with officers, individuals interacting with officers, or members of the press, are invaluable in promoting transparency.”