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Citizen Police Review Board Director Takes Issue With Ruling On Recording Police Officers

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- We've seen several stories in the news over the past couple of years. They are incidents involving police officers being filmed by bystanders on the street using their cell phones.

They range from Eric Garner's death in New York City and Walter Scott's death in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Even local cases like the altercation at Pittsburgh's PrideFest in 2014.

A federal judge in Philadelphia has ruled that citizens don't have an "unfettered right" to record police activity.

"It's totally un-American. It's contrary to the civil liberties that we promise this country," Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, said.

Pittinger says she's happy the ACLU is appealing the decision.

"Why should there be another standard for a police officer. They work for us. They're doing public work. And if we're recording them at work, what reasonable purpose could there be to prevent that," Pittinger said.

The judge said police are free to stop bystanders from recording their actions unless the person announces they're recording as a challenge or protest to the officer's actions.

The ACLU argues the ruling reduces the ability of the public to monitor police activity.

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"The government is formed by the people. Everywhere you look someone is recording what you're doing. When you're in public, you've given up your right to privacy," Pittinger said.

"I think we have a right to film the police if they're doing something out of context. Other than that, no," Jewel Thomas said.

"I've never had a reason to have to videotape a police officer. If I get in any kind of trouble, it's because I deserve it," Adam Dunker said.

Pittinger says she's confident the ACLU will win their case.

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