Q&A: Reporting rights regarding the police


From the Mount Vernon Democrat:

Q: Do you have any guidelines regarding the rights of reporters in police matters? Our reporters need to fully understand the laws, and I want to be sure the police understand them as well. 

A: The Access to Public Records Act contains a section outlining information that law enforcement must make available in relation to arrests, incarcerations and requests for assistance. This section is at IC 5-14-3-5.

As to interactions with police on the scene, you always should respect the cordon they set up. Don’t cross the line unless they have invited you in. With photography, if you’re outside the cordon, you’re free to take pictures of what is visible from that location. They have no right to tell you to stop taking photos, demand you erase photos or seize your equipment.

Copies of the “Handbook on Indiana’s Public Access Laws,” which contains the Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act, are available for free from HSPA.

Contact HSPA to receive copies or to discuss the laws’ implications in your community.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.