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Photo: votereginaromero.com
Photo: votereginaromero.com

Misinformation prompts Tucson Mayor Regina Romero to update policy on recording police officers

Faced with public backlash, Tucson’s first Latina Mayor revised a troubling policy that gave police officers more power over crime scenes and citizens’ rights.

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It started when a Twitter account called out a Tucson City Council policy on recording police officers. The tweet quickly gained widespread attention on the platform, currently boasting 74,000 retweets and nearly 130,000 likes in three days. 

It reads: 

“The Tucson city council passed an ordinance making it illegal for citizens to film the Tucson police. I’m horrified. This needs national attention.”

Eventually the tweet reached Ice Cube, an American rapper, filmmaker, and actor who is vocal on social issues. He tweeted a response to Mayor Romero, the first Latina Mayor of Tucson.

From this point-on the misinformation continued to spread. Misinformation, because the viral tweet references an ordinance dated April 2020, which allows police officers to set up a police line preventing citizens from getting too close.

Ordinance 11746 was originally aimed at Tucson’s “cop watchers” who claim they film cops for the public good, also saying they never enter crime scenes. 

“This ordinance addresses individuals who appear at a crime scene with the sole intention of obstructing an investigation to record videos and sell them for profit, “ tweeted Mayor Romero. 

The ordinance does not say citizens are prohibited from recording police officers. “The public has a clear right to free speech and to record police activities that take place in public," part of the ordinance reads. 

Mayor Romero took to Twitter to clarify amid the uproar, saying, “After receiving feedback and seeing misinformation , I am going to recommend to Mayor & Council that we receive more community feedback, consider additional language, and bring ordinance 11746 back for further review.”

Romero added there have been no citations or arrests made under this ordinance, reiterating that it does not prohibit the public from recording police or the recording of crime scenes.

To this, Ice cube expressed his doubt over the policy, questioning who the legislation is really protecting — officers or citizens?

While not as extreme as initially thought, the widespread attention prompted Mayor Romero to review the language within the ordinance, which grants officers power over crime scenes, and bars civilians from entering them. 

It essentially gives even more power to the police, stating, “It shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with enforcement activity investigations, and other police-related activities.” Ice Cube and others on Twitter say the danger lies in the room for interpretation. 

“The ability to record members of our police department is a critical mechanism for public accountability, and in many instances, the only way injustices and abuses have been exposed across the country,” continued Romero.

The viral tweet, while not accurate, in the end served its purpose by prompting Mayor Romero to review the ordinance, as vagueness in such legislation leaves a gap for further issues with police.

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