No state has a law outlawing videotaping anyone or anything “in public”. Of course you may not go to the scene of an emergency and be present while the emergency is in progress. By present, I refer to an unreasonable distance of the activity putting yourself and emergency personnel at risk. A telephoto lens solves this problem. No one — even cops — have an expectation of privacy while conducting police business in a place open to the public or a public place.
Eavesdropping laws do not apply in a public place or a place open to the public. THERE IS NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY! You cannot sneak up on two cops having a private conversation and record it anymore then doing so to anyone else. Public employees doing their job in a public place do not have a right to privacy and may be tape recorded and videotaped. No court has upheld any arrest arising from the misbehavior of officers who take cameras or cell phone memory chips based on eavesdrop laws. No appeals court has upheld such conduct and that’s why it has not reached the Supreme Court yet. No city , county or state has appealed the appellate courts.
The goal of police is to obtain your video or memory card and erase what you shot before returning it to you. You should always have your cell phone set up for immediate email to your account. There are now apps for that. So stay a good distance away, film secretly, make your complaint to the Internal Affairs Unit of the police department without telling them you have film but make sure your story matches exactly what the film shows. Be very specific. Wait until they exonerate, they claim it was “he said, she said” and suddenly discover the video. They will try to make you the bad guy for withholding the video but the “bad” conduct will still have to be punished.
Now suppose you are stopped in a store for alleged shoplifting and a cop comes to the store. You know you’re innocent and refuse to cooperate. Now you will find that the shoplifting charge will be dropped and you will instead be convicted of interfering with their investigation and assault and battery on an officer if you struggle. So, email your footage and follow their demands. Many people are now videotaping people who are videotaping from a safe distance. So don’t worry about getting the conduct on tape. Let them violate your Constitutional rights, steal your property or whatever and don’t give them a defense.
Now cops know that you’re not going to hire a lawyer and file an action in federal court over their behavior (after all, most lawyers want cases with real damages) and they know that their arrest strictly for videotaping won’t get prosecuted but you have a great case if you keep your cool and wait your turn.
What it will take is for a wacko cop to use deadly force and kill someone over their recording of his actions in a public place. It’s too bad but that’s what will get this conduct before the Supreme Court so they can firmly lay down your first and fourth amendment rights.