General Orders and Reference Materials
(updated 03-08-2018)

Police departments across the United States have issued General Orders or similar documents to explain to their officers and supervisors how to deal with photography and video in the public space and the use of body cams.

These Orders cover such topics as how to legally secure copies of images, when it is permissible to seize images under extremely limited circumstances, and how to maintain the chain of evidence for the images.

DISCLAIMER: The documents posted on this page are not to be construed in any way as legal advice regarding the Right to Photograph and Record in Public. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding these issues you are strongly advised to consult with your own (or your department’s) legal counsel before taking any action.

This list is being updated as more documents become available. If your department / agency has a 'photography in public' policy, we would like to include it in this directory. Please submit your document(s) by clicking here.

Photography in Public Policies, General Orders, etc

(Court decisions and other documents are included after this list)

National Press Photographers Association, Model Police Guidelines (2014)

International Association of Chiefs of Police / Public Recording of Police (PROP)

Department of Homeland Security policy in re photography of federal buildings

Movie Production Sets on public streets (Florida)

AMTRAK Photography and Video Recording Policy

Suffolk County NY Police Department / First Amendment Training Video

Metropolitan Police Service, London, England GB

New South Wales, Australia


Los Angeles County Sheriff Department

State of California

University of California/Davis Police Department

San Francisco Police Department


State of Colorado


State of Connecticut, SB1109, extract only

New Haven Police Department


Miami Beach Police Department

Orlando Police Department


New Orleans Police Department


Anne Arundel County Police Department

Baltimore Police Department

Montgomery County - Citizen Videotape/Photography Directive

Montgomery County Media Directive

Sykesville Police Department


Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Bridgewater State University Police Department


St. Louis County Police Department


New York City Police Department (multiple documents)


Concord Police Department


Cincinnati Police Department

Cleveland Police Department


Eugene Police Department


Philadelphia Police Department


Memphis Police Department


The following departments have confirmed by email or letter they do NOT have any policies or general orders regarding 'public recording of police' (in accordance with Turner v Driver, US 5th Circuit):

Amarille Police; Cedar Hill Police; Collin County Sheriff; Corinth Police; Dallas County Community College District; Dallas County Sheriff; Duncanville Police; Ellis County Sheriff; Flower Mound Police; Galveston Police; Grapevine Police; Mesquite Police; Murphy Police; North Richland Hills Police; Palestine Police; Sherman Police; SMU Police; Tyler Police; Wichita Falls Police; Waxahachie Police; Wise County Sheriff

Arlington Police Department

Austin Police Department

Cooke County Sheriff (Letter)

Corpus Christi Police Department

City of Dallas

City of Dallas Insurance Card for Staff Vehicles

Dallas Police Department (DRAFT)

Dallas Police Department (FINAL)

Dallas Fire/Rescue (policy statement, October 3, 2017)

Dallas Fire/Rescue Manual of Procedures / 311.00 Media and Public Relations

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Police Department (Policy Letter, June 2014)

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police (DART) Department (General Orders 2.06, March 2016

Dallas Independent School District Police Department

Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Public Safety Department (DRAFT)

El Paso Police Department (media policy ca. 1999)

Farmers Branch Police Department

Fort Worth Police Department - Right to Record (5th Circuit)

Fort Worth Police Department - General Orders in re Photography @ Disturbances

Frisco Police Department Training Bulletins: 2018 - 2017 - 2017a

Highland Park Police Department

Houston Police Department

Laredo Police Department- Public & Protected Information

Melissa Police Department (statement via email)

Parkland Hospital District (Dallas) Police Department - Corporate Communications

Parkland Hospital District (Dallas) Police Department - Photograph/Film Patients

Red Oak Police Department (media policy, pending right to photograph policy)

Richardson Police Department

Rockwall Police Department

Southlake Police Department - email'd statement

Texas Department of Public Safety (includes comments in re photography at State Capitol)

The Colony Police Department (informational handout)

University of Texas System / Police Department

White Settlement Police Department (letter)


Tacoma, Police Department

Seattle Police Department

Seattle Local Ordinance


Washington, DC Police Department

BodyCam / Body Worn Cameras (BWC) Policies

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press maintains a database/map of BWC polices across the USA
(click here)

Related documents, such as federal or state court decisions, Department of Justice statements, etc

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), with funding from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), developed a training toolkit addressing the public's right to record police officers. This training focuses on the public's First Amendment right to record, limitations of this right, common police responses to recording individuals, strategies for diffusing and deflecting police-civilian confrontations, and how and when video equipment or recordings can be seized.

You Have a Constitutional Right to take photos of police, federal court affirms, h/t, 7/7/2017...a panel of judges for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the First Amendment protects individuals' right to film police officers performing their official duties. The 3rd Circuit now joins the 1st, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th Circuits in concluding that the Constitution guarantees a right to record. No federal appeals court has yet concluded that the First Amendment does not safeguard the right to film law enforcement officers conducting police activity in public. (includes link to court's ruling)

US Department of Justice Statement of Interest - March 2013 - in re whether individuals have a First Amendment right to record police officers in the discharged of their duties and whether officers violate individuals' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendement rights when they seize such recordings without a warrant or due process

Turner v Driver, US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2-16-2017 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram story) - “Filming the police contributes to the public’s ability to hold the police accountable, ensure that police officers are not abusing their power, and make informed decisions about police policy,” Justice Jacques Wiener wrote. “Protecting the right to film the police promotes First Amendment principles.

How Pervasive Video Affects Law Enforcement and Civil Rights / 1-30-2016 / Houston Bar Association / Law and The Media Seminar / Leatherbury, Gividen, Miller, Vinson & Elkins, LLP

Rules and Protections for the Undercover Journalist: A primer on possible claims and defenses in Texas courts based on headline journalism cases / 1-30-2016 / Houston Bar Association / Law and The Media Seminar / Parker, Jackson Walker LLP

Federal Highway Administration, DOT Pt. 634 – Worker Visibility - rules that require law enforcement officers, reporters and photographers to wear high-visibility vests if they are standing within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway and are exposed to either traffic or construction equipment.

US District Court/ Southern District of New York - Higgenbotham v City of New York et al - 14-cv-8549 - May 12, 2015 - First Amendment generally protects videorecording of police, and this right is 'clearly established' in 2nd Circuit

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - Police, Protesters and the Press: How a wave of protests across the nation has tested police-press relations, and what it means for journalists who cover them.

Buehler v Austin (Texas) Police Department (Opinion and Order US District Court of Eastern Texas) A federal lawsuit filed by local activist Antonio Buehler against the Austin Police Department has cleared a hurdle as a U.S. magistrate judge upheld his constitutional right to photograph and film police officers.

Glik v Cunniffe et al 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011) was a case at the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that held that a private citizen has the right to record video and audio of public officials in a public place, and that the arrest of the citizen for a wiretapping violation violated the citizen's First and Fourth Amendment rights.)

US Department of Justice Letter to Baltimore Police Department (US Department of Justice)The US Department of Justice sent a strongly worded letter to the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), reprimanding it for insufficiently supporting the right of citizens to record video of officers on duty — a move that suggests the federal government is becoming increasingly concerned over related civil rights abuses.

Cops, Cameras and Accountability (Dissertation, Douglas Alan Kelly, University of Maine 2012)

Changing the culture of unconstitutional interference: a proposal for nationwide implementation of a model policy and training procedures protecting the right to photograph and record on-duty police (Kimberly McCullough, J.D., Lewis & Clark Law School, Associate Attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (August 2014)

ACLU Illinois v Alvarez The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined enforcement of the Illinois eavesdropping law. The court ruled that the law, which prohibits people from making audio recordings of police officers in public, “likely violates” the First Amendment (United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit. May 8, 2012)

Riley vs. California, 13-132 Police need warrants for cell phone searches. Police must get a search warrant before examining the contents of cell phones they seize from people they arrest, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, invoking Americans' right to modest privacy protections in the troves of personal information stored in the compact devices.

A Guide To Photographer’s Rights (And What To Do If You Get Arrested) Hopefully, none of you will ever actually be in a situation where this would be useful, but Mickey Osterreicher, General Counsel for The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), sat down to make a quick, but helpful, informational video regarding the legal rights of photojournalists. In the video, which is a 3-minute long gem of a sound bite, Osterreicher explains several different scenarios photographers working in public places often find themselves in and what they can do to prevent interactions with the police from escalating.

Press Freedom Under Fire in Ferguson (PEN AMERICA) On August 9, 2014, Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown six times, killing him. Brown’s killing touched off protests in Ferguson that grew into several weeks of demonstrations. The aggressive law enforcement response to the protests drew national attention.

Photo credit: Avi S. Adelman,, Dallas

Event contact / information / media inquiries

Avi S. Adelman / Photographer on Board, Dallas
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