Court says recording officer was not illegal

Ruling clears motorist who secretly recorded a traffic stop on his phone
By Saul Hubbard, The Register-Guard

Nov. 03, 2011

A Cottage Grove man who secretly recorded his interaction with a Eugene police officer on his cell phone during a 2008 traffic stop did not act illegally, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled, highlighting the ongoing controversy over how and when residents may record the actions of law enforcement officers.

The Cottage Grove man, 33-year-old Shane Neff, did not act illegally because the officer in question, Sam Ou, was himself recording the conversation on his cruiser’s dashboard camera and notified Neff that he was doing so.

Under Oregon law, recording a conversation is illegal “if not all participants in the conversation are specifically informed that their conversation is being obtained.”

In most instances, therefore, citizens must tell law enforcement officers if they choose to record them speaking, though they don’t need an on-duty officer’s permission to do so in public areas.

But in Neff’s case, the majority of the Court of Appeals’ judges ruled that Ou’s notification of his own recording was “sufficient” because the law doesn’t clearly state who must inform whom.

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