Can I record the Police in Colorado?

Have you ever wondered: “can I record the Police in Colorado?” Generally, you can legally record the police in Colorado. Both the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution and Section 10 of the Colorado Constitution protect you. The Colorado Legislature, however, provides you more protection through the recently enacted 13-21-128, Colorado Revised Statute (CRS 13-21-128).

CRS 13-21-128 makes law enforcement liable for damages if they improperly interfere with the lawful recording of their activities. CRS 13-21-128 also provides a roadmap for recovery, 

What is the Process for Compensation?

You may be entitled to compensation if law enforcement in Colorado:

  • unlawfully Interferes with your recording of their activity
  • seizes your device, or
  • destroys or damages your recording. 

The process is straight forward. First, you file an affidavit with the officer’s agency. The affidavit includes the amount of damages you are claiming. That amount includes actual damages (e.g. repair or replacement costs of your device). You should also include $500.00 if your recording has been damaged or destroyed.

Warning:  be mindful, it can be a crime if you lie on an affidavit to law enforcement (see Jussie Smollett).  

The Agency has 30 days to:

  • Pay you (GREAT! But unlikely), or
  • Give you a Written Denial (probably the most common response).  

What if My Claim is Denied?

You can file suit against the agency if your claim is denied.

Warning: this is real litigation. Big risk and big reward territory. What do I mean by big risk, big reward? Simple. If the court finds that the law enforcement agency acted in bad faith by not paying your claim, then you could be entitled to up to an additional $15,000.00 in damages. You can also get awarded the costs for bringing the action (and if you hired an attorney), attorney’s fees. That’s the big reward. Now the big risk!

If the court finds that your lawsuit was frivolous, then you could be responsible for the law enforcement agency’s attorney’s fees and costs. Litigation costs can be expensive. 

What If I am the Victim of Law Enforcement? 

If you have been the victim of law enforcement interfering with your right to record their conduct, or if you have had your device taken, damaged, or destroyed, take a quick look at my page on the Police Taking or Destroying Records and Contact Me for a free consultation.