Wednesday, June 10, 2020

City Council To Reexamine Ordinance Allowing Police To Limit Recording at Crime Scenes

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 2:39 PM

The Tucson City Council unanimously voted to reopen discussions on the controversial ordinance prohibiting the public to enter and film a crime scene without having officer permission during Tuesday’s study session.

Councilmember Lane Santa Cruz brought forth the motion, which was seconded by Councilmember Nikki Lee. Both council members asked for more clarity about the specifics of the ordinance before it was originally voted upon in late April.

"I think that a government works best when we're co-governing as elected officials, administrators and the community," Mayor Regina Romero said. "That's why I think it's important that we open the dialogue on this important issue."

"I think that a government works best when we're co-governing as elected officials, administrators and the community," Mayor Regina Romero said. "That's why I think it's important that we open the dialogue on this important issue."
  • "I think that a government works best when we're co-governing as elected officials, administrators and the community," Mayor Regina Romero said. "That's why I think it's important that we open the dialogue on this important issue."
City Ordinance 11746 passed unanimously on April 21 without allowing public comments due to the city closing their offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, outrage over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer sparked a renewed interest to allow Tucsonans to voice their concerns which could potentially amend or rescind the ordinance.

“When we voted in April, that was a very different time. I think our community and our country as a whole is really fed up with business as usual and are demanding a seat at the table,” Santa Cruz said. “Our responsibility as elected officials is to make room and to also recognize that we don’t always have it figured out. The more input we get, the more we can make informed decisions.”

Critics contend the ordinance tramples First Amendment rights by restricting the public’s access to film officers during interactions and arrests. Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus and several city council members say the ordinance is to protect officers from being obstructed from their job. The chief also said the ordinance was written so it doesn’t violate the public’s freedom of speech.

“It is really about providing a safe area for officers to engage with the public, suspects, witnesses, whoever...without fear of having someone obstruct or interfere with them doing their work,” Magnus said. “It constitutionally protects the right of people to record police activity. It is very specific and has been a part of the training we’ve been given.”

Magnus also noted TPD officers haven’t made any arrests due to a violation of the ordinance to date since it passed in April.


On the same day the ordinance passed, TDP released an unlisted video on their YouTube channel showing a community auditor yelling obscenities at a female TPD officer while she was apparently trying to establish a crime scene. The video is touted by TPD and city officials as proof as to why further action was justified.

While the ordinance will now be set for review during the June 23 council meeting, it will still remain in effect until the council decides to take further action.

The public is encouraged to email concerns and comments here before the June 23 council meeting.

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