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Not a Crime to Photograph Undercover Police Officers:

So says a state prosecutor, dealing with an arrest for this non-crime. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune,

Randy Sievert did not commit a crime when he snapped a photo of an undercover Manatee County sheriff's vehicle from the road, a state prosecutor said this week in a case that has drawn national attention.

Deputies confronted Sievert in February and ordered him to erase any photos he took standing at the scene of a drug-related search warrant. Authorities called Sievert a "known" drug dealer whose photos jeopardized officer safety. Sievert, 20, was charged with interfering in a search warrant....

Sievert has been jailed without bail since his arrest; the obstruction charge violated his probation in two drug cases.

A person cannot be charged with obstruction or resisting arrest if the police detention is unlawful, an assistant state attorney, Tony Casoria, said in a memo released this week. Sievert did not physically interfere with the search warrant, the prosecutor said.

Casoria said Sievert "took a photograph in a public place, across the street from the home where law enforcement were conducting their search." ...

In declining to prosecute Sievert, the state pointed to a decision in a federal lawsuit in which a judge awarded a man damages for his arrest for videotaping police.... "The activities of the police, like those of other public officials, are subject to public scrutiny," [the judge in that case wrote]. "Robinson's right to free speech encompasses the right to receive information and ideas."

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