WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Police Make Up the Law While Arresting Journalist

Sep 4, 2018

A video shows Denver police officers telling Susan Greene, editor of The Colorado Independent, that HIPPA supersedes the First Amendment as she tried to photograph them responding to a call on a public sidewalk. They then told Greene to "act like a lady" as they handcuffed and detained her.

The Shop Talk panelists ridiculed the police officers for claiming HIPPA supersedes the First Amendment. 

Panelist Will Buss said HIPPA protects the privacy of someone who is admitted to a hospital and/or is under the care of a health provider. He said the police officers in the video overstepped their authority while trying to control the scene.

Buss said journalists and other citizens need to know and understand the law, especially when using smartphones or other technology capable of producing video and audio recordings.  He wondered if the officers were more inclined to arrest Greene because of her previous investigative reporting on police brutality.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said HIPPA did not apply to the situation in Denver. She said the video made her worry that some journalists might end up in jail for lawfully doing their job.

And Crighton is concerned less experienced journalists might be more easily intimidated by police during such confrontations.  She said she’s seen her student reporters question how well they know the law when police or others try to assert their authority.

Panelist Rich Egger said newsrooms continue to cut loose experienced reporters who might be more likely to stand up for their rights.  He’s concerned that younger, less experienced reporters might be willing to give in to police demands in situations such as the one shown in the video.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.