CRIME

Citizens taking video of police increasingly finding themselves facing arrest themselves

  • FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2015 file photo, Thomas Demint, left, listens to his attorney Kenneth Mollins at a news conference in Hauppauge, N.Y., after police arrested Demint when he took a cellphone video of police officers arresting two of his friends, and body-slamming their mother. Demint says three officers tackled him, took away his smartphone and tried, unsuccessfully, to erase the video before arresting him on charges of obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. Civil liberties experts say Demint is part of a growing trend of citizen videographers getting arrested after trying to record police behavior. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2015 file photo, Thomas Demint, left, listens to his attorney Kenneth Mollins at a news conference in Hauppauge, N.Y., after police arrested Demint when he took a cellphone video of police officers arresting two of his friends, and body-slamming their mother. Demint says three officers tackled him, took away his smartphone and tried, unsuccessfully, to erase the video before arresting him on charges of obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. Civil liberties experts say Demint is part of a growing trend of citizen videographers getting arrested after trying to record police behavior. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2015 file photo, Thomas Demint, left, listens to his attorney Kenneth Mollins at a news conference in Hauppauge, N.Y., after police arrested Demint when he took a cellphone video of police officers arresting two of his friends, and body-slamming their mother. Demint says three officers tackled him, took away his smartphone and tried, unsuccessfully, to erase the video before arresting him on charges of obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. Civil liberties experts say Demint is part of a growing trend of citizen videographers getting arrested after trying to record police behavior. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2015 file photo, Thomas Demint, left, listens to his attorney Kenneth Mollins at a news conference in Hauppauge, N.Y., after police arrested Demint when he took a cellphone video of police officers arresting two of his friends, and body-slamming their mother. Demint says three officers tackled him, took away his smartphone and tried, unsuccessfully, to erase the video before arresting him on charges of obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. Civil liberties experts say Demint is part of a growing trend of citizen videographers getting arrested after trying to record police behavior. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman, File)  (The Associated Press)

Smartphones are making it easier than ever for people to record police encounters with the public, providing evidence of beatings and shootings that wouldn't have existed otherwise.

But some police departments are responding to the scrutiny by arresting citizen videographers on such charges as obstruction or interfering with a crime scene. And even though recording police is protected by the First Amendment, civil libertarians say such arrests are only becoming more frequent.

New York's ACLU has been fighting back with an app that automatically uploads citizen videos to a central server, preserving them even if the smartphone is seized.

And California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a "Right to Record Act" that specifically declares people may not be prevented from recording the police.