New Louisiana Law Criminalizes Standing Too Close to Police

( – In this age of advancing technology, it’s become commonplace to film police officers as they do their jobs. Onlookers use the footage to hold corrupt authorities accountable for their actions. But some say it impedes officers from doing their jobs, and citizens in close proximity could pose a danger. Louisiana recently addressed that issue.

On May 28, Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry (R) signed House Bill 173, making it a crime to stand within 25 feet of an officer if they ordered the person to stand back. The governor said it was part of his administration’s plan to “address public safety in the state.” Those who break the new law face up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine.

Fraternal Order of Police President Darrell Basco reportedly asked State Representative Bryan Fontenot (R) to file the bill, stating the distance was necessary to keep his officers safe. Basco said if a person is closer, “an edged weapon can get to [them] before” the officer has a chance to “react and get out of the way.”

Opponents of the law worry that it will hinder the public’s ability to film officers while on duty, a measure that has held them accountable in the past — particularly in the case of the murder of George Floyd. A similar bill crossed the desk of the previous Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, but the Democrat refused to sign it. He called it “unnecessary” and possibly a hindrance for people exercising their First Amendment rights. Edwards said observing the police while they perform their public service is a “constitutional right” for all US citizens.

Supporters of the measure argue that bystanders will still be close enough to film interactions but not close enough to do harm to officers on duty. Fontenot and others said the new law creating the buffer zone will give police “peace of mind and safe distance to do their job.”

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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