Proposed Bill Limiting the Filming of Police Activity Dropped
Texas State Rep. Jason Villalba has announced he will drop his proposed legislation that would limit the ability to film police officers in the line of their duty.
Villalba's bill would have made it illegal for a resident to film police within 25 feet of police activity, or within 100 feet if the resident is armed. Villalba said the measure was initially proposed by the Dallas Police Association and the Texas Municipal Police Association after incidents of officers being antagonized on the job,
We thought when we wrote our bill that we were making it safe not only for the police officers by that [25-foot] buffer zone, but also for those individuals that are seeking to keep law enforcement accountable to give them a safe zone to film.
Villalba noted that resistance to the bill was almost immediate and from both sides of the political spectrum, believing the bill was limiting First Amendment rights. Villalba was criticized for blocking several people on social media for asking questions about the bill. Villalba had received threats after the bill was proposed and instructed his staff to block those threatening him on social media, delete voicemails without listening to them, and even to not answer the phone for the day.
Villalba has said that the recent controversy over the filmed murder of Walter Scott by police in South Carolina did not cause his decision to drop the measure, noting that the witness who recorded the shooting was not violating the proposed limits of his bill. Villalba considered altering the bill, reducing the range limits to 15-feet and 45-feet, respectively. However, Villalba has decided that the public has spoken on the matter and it will not be successful.