Skip to main content
U.S.

Louisiana law creates 25-foot buffer space between police, citizens

May 30

Share

Media Landscape

See who else is reporting on this story and which side of the political spectrum they lean. To read other sources, click on the plus signs below.

Learn more about this data

Left 19%

Center 70%

Right 11%

Bias Distribution Powered by Ground News

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry signed legislation that makes it a crime to knowingly approach within 25 feet of a police officer. An individual cannot approach an officer when they are “engaged in law enforcement duties” and the officer has ordered the person to stay back.

Buffer zone or First Amendment infringement?

Proponents of the new law argue that it creates a buffer zone to help ensure the safety of officers. By maintaining a distance of 25 feet, they believe officers can focus on their duties without unnecessary distractions or potential threats.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

“I think you see across America that violence on police officers continues to rise and there was a delicate balance of finding a safe distance for police officers to be able to do their job both for them and the person they are affecting an arrest on,” Rep. Bryan Fontenot, the bill’s author, said at the signing.

However, opponents fear that the measure could hinder the public’s ability to film officers and exercise their First Amendment rights. The state tried passing similar legislation last year, but the democratic governor at the time vetoed it.

“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,” Former Gov. John Bel Edwards said in last year’s veto message. “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.”

While the legislation’s language does not specifically mention filming, critics said that by default, it would limit how close a person can be to observe police interactions. Bystander cellphone videos have played a crucial role in revealing police misconduct, such as the 2020 arrest of George Floyd by Minneapolis officers that led to his death.

Under the new law, anyone who is convicted of “knowingly or intentionally” approaching an officer, who is “lawfully engaged in the execution of his official duties,”after being ordered to “stop approaching or retreat,” faces up to a $500 fine, 60 days in jail, or both. The law, signed by Landry, a Republican, will go into effect on Aug. 1.

Mixed court rulings

In a similar case, lawmakers in Arizona passed a law in 2022 that would have made it illegal to knowingly film police officers within 8 feet if the officer tells the person to stop. However, a coalition of media groups and the American Civil Liberties Union successfully sued to block Arizona’s law. A federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional, citing infringement against the clearly established right to film police officers performing their duties.

Across the United States, half of the appeals courts have ruled in favor of allowing people to record police without restriction while others ruled it does not infringe on civil liberties.

Tags: , , ,

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR JEFF LANDRY HAS SIGNED NEW LEGISLATION MAKING IT A CRIME FOR ANYONE TO APPROACH A POLICE OFFICER WITHIN 25 FEET IF THE POLICE OFFICER HAS ORDERED THE PERSON TO STAY BACK.

PROPONENTS OF THE NEW LAW ARGUE THE BUFFER ZONE IS NEEDED TO ENSURE OFFICER SAFETY.

OPPONENTS SAY THE NEW LAW INFRINGES ON A PERSON’S FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO FILM AN OFFICER DURING ALTERCATIONS.

WHILE THE LEGISLATION DOESN’T SPECIFICALLY MENTION FILMING –

CRITICS SAY THE NEW LAW WOULD LIMIT A PERSON’S ABILITY TO RECORD CELL PHONE VIDEO OF POLICE INTERACTIONS THAT HAVE IN THE PAST BEEN USED TO SPOTLIGHT POLICE MALPRACTICE –

SUCH AS THE CELL PHONE VIDEO BYSTANDERS RECORDED IN 2020 DURING GEORGE FLOYD’S ARREST THAT LED TO HIS DEATH.

THIS ISN’T THE FIRST TIME LOUISIANA HAS TRIED TO GET A BILL LIKE THIS SIGNED INTO LAW.

LAWMAKERS TRIED LAST YEAR – UNDER A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR – WHO VETOED IT.

NOW – UNDER REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP –  IT’S A DIFFERENT STORY.

AT THE BILL’S SIGNING – THE STATE REPRESENTATIVE WHO INTRODUCED THE BILL SAYS IT PROVIDES POLICE “PEACE OF MIND AND A SAFE DISTANCE TO DO THEIR JOB.”

“I think you see across america that violence on police officers continues to rise and there was a delicate balance of finding a safe distance  for police officers to be able to dod their job both for the mand the person they are affecting an arrest on.”

UNDER THE NEW LAW – ANYONE WHO IS “KNOWINGLY OR INTENTIONALLY” APPROACHING AN OFFICER AFTER BEING TOLD NOT TO – FACES A FINE UP TO $500 DOLLARS OR UP TO 60 DAYS IN JAIL.

THERE’S BEEN SIMILAR STATE LEGISLATION ACROSS THE U.S. –

ONE IN ARIZONA THAT WAS SIGNED INTO LAW IN 2022 BUT WAS RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND REPEALED.

ABOUT HALF OF THE APPEALS COURTS THAT HAVE HEARD SIMILAR CASES HAVE SHOT DOWN THE LAWS AS INFRINGING ON PEOPLE’S RIGHTS TO RECORD POLICE WITHOUT RESTRICTION.

AND THE OTHER HALF RULING IT DOES NOT INFRINGE ON CIVIL LIBERTIES –

ALLOWING FOR THE ADDED SPACE POLICE CAN CALL FOR WHEN MAKING AN ARREST.

I’M KARAH RUCKER.

FOR MORE STORIES LIKE THIS – DOWNLOAD THE STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS APP.

OR VISIT US AT SAN DOT COM.