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Film Seattle police, and you could get extra legal protection

Police officers pause next to a sign outside a restaurant as they observe a May Day anti-capitalism march, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Seattle.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Police officers pause next to a sign outside a restaurant as they observe a May Day march, 2015, in Seattle.

Videos of police arrests and shootings around the country this year have put a spotlight on police behavior. A new Seattle City Council proposal would reinforce the right to record police. A council committee discussed the idea Wednesday.

They heard from SPD reps and a woman who knows about the topic first hand. Reverend Harriett Walden started Mothers For Police Accountability in 1990. She said smart phones have made it easier, but citizen monitoring of the police is nothing new.

Walden: "We always got out of our car to observe the police and we would watch the whole event at a safe distance so [we're] not interfering. And I think it sends a message to not only the police department but also to the person who is being detained."

The proposed ordinance would give more protection to people who record police interactions. It spells out that the police department could be sued if officers prevent someone from recording or arrest them for it. 

SPDpolice already says people are allowed to record an arrest, as long as they don't cause a safety threat.

Police department reps were at the meeting and will have some involvement in creating the ordinance.

Council President Bruce Harrell supports the proposal.

“People are saying I had no idea this kind of misconduct has happened in this country," he said. But Harrell said it's been going on for decades, smartphones have just helped bring policing issues to the forefront.

The City Council still needs to vote on the proposal.