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Quick Guide To

Recording Oregon Law Enforcement

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Video Recording:

Video recording is generally allowed in public spaces where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, however, recording nudity or sexual activity without consent is prohibited under Oregon law (ORS 163.701 and ORS 163.700).

General Rule

In Oregon, you’re generally allowed to record police officers, but there are important nuances and legal considerations.

Audio Recording:

  • Oregon law typically requires notifying persons being audio-recorded. However, police officers can be recorded without prior notification if:
    • The recording is during their official duties.
    • The recording is made openly and visibly.
    • The conversation is audible without enhancement.
    • You are lawfully present at the location of recording.

Special Scenarios:

  • Traffic Stops: Notification is required for audio recording but not video recording.
  • Protests: Recording is advised and protected under Oregon law (ORS 165.540(5)(b)).
  • Consensual Encounters: When it’s your choice to stay or leave a law enforcement interaction, you probably just want to leave, however, if you choose to stay and audio-record, notify the officer as required per ORS 165.540(5)(b).

Additional Considerations: While legally permissible, recording police can be sensitive. Consider the following to avoid potential issues:

  • Stay Calm: Use your device respectfully without aggravating the situation.
  • Expect Challenges: Some officers may view recording as a challenge to their authority. Be aware of laws against obstructing official duties (ORS 162.235, ORS 162.247).
  • Know Your Device: Be familiar with your recording equipment and how to use it swiftly and discreetly.  
  • Use Caution: Quick or concealed movements might be misconstrued as reaching for a weapon. Communicate clearly if you need to reach for your device.
  • Alternative Devices: Consider using a device other than your phone to prevent possible confiscation, tampering, or search. Using cloud services for live-streaming or backup can safeguard your recordings.
  • Assert Your Rights: If confronted, clarify your intent to document the scene objectively. If not detained or suspected of a crime, you have the right to leave or continue recording.
  • Respect Privacy: On private property, recording against the owner’s wishes can lead to being trespassed.
  • Document Accurately: Avoid altering recordings, especially if they might be used in official proceedings, to prevent accusations of tampering with evidence (ORS 162.295).
  • Seek Legal Advice: For frequent interactions or planned documentation (e.g., during protests), consult with an attorney to understand your rights and plan your approach.

Remember, while you have the right to record, doing so should be balanced with an understanding of the situation and respect for all parties involved.