If you encounter a law enforcement officer in public in the state of Tennessee, is it legal to record them?

Is It Legal? Yes, But...

The simple answer to this question is yes. However, before you hit record, you will want to keep some key points in mind. You do have the right to record a police officer in public, and that right is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, according to Nashville Criminal Attorney David Ridings who says that while the recording law enforcement is not expressly written into the First Amendment, it is generally agreed upon that it is included.

Most courts agree that the First Amendment to the Constitution gives you the right to record – with pictures, audio, and video – police officers who are on duty (or off duty) while in public. Although the First Amendment doesn’t specifically say we have a “right to record the police”, it does give us the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It also provides the right to “gather or document” information about our government (which includes Law Enforcement).
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Do Not Interfere in an Officer's Public Duties While Recording

The First Amendment, the Right to Freedom of Speech, does technically include recording law enforcement. However, when recording, you should ensure that you do not interfere with their public duties, and you definitely do not want to do anything that would compromise the safety of the public.

attachment-record tennessee police

Practice Care on Private Property While Recording Police

The law offices of Adrian H. Altshuler and Associates points out that you should use caution when it comes to private property. It is only lawful to record police on private property if you have the permission of the property owner.

Recording on private property introduces an additional challenge. As long as you are there with the property owner’s consent, you have the freedom to record. However, you should be mindful of the property owner’s rules and regulations regarding recording as they have the ability to create their own. It’s important to respect the wishes of the property owner and comply with all of their requests.

One Party Consent Law in Tennessee

Tennessee is one of 38 states that have "One Party" consent laws. This means that as long as one party in a conversation has consented to being recorded, it is legal to record the conversation. In an interaction with law enforcement, you yourself, can be the consenting "one party."

READ MORE: Is It Legal to Flip the Middle Finger at Police in Tennessee?

Can an Officer Take Your Phone If You are Recording?

A police officer cannot lawfully take your phone from you for recording them, unless you have broken the law. The ACLU of Texas shares that "even if you are being arrested, the police may not search the digital contents of a cell phone without a warrant." They also go on to say that an officer cannot delete photos or videos from your device for any reason.

7 Major Red Flags For People Moving To Tennessee

Moving to a new state can be an exciting adventure, but it's important to be aware of potential downsides or challenges you might face in your new home. Tennessee is known for its vibrant music scene, beautiful landscapes, and rich history, but like any place, it has its share of red flags that prospective residents should consider:


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