INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — Under a new Indiana state law, you could be placed under arrest if you’re standing less than 25 feet away from a police investigation.
House Enrolled Act 1186 gives police a 25-foot buffer to perform any of their duties. If a member of the public is asked to provide that distance and doesn’t comply, they can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Indiana is among the first states to pass such a law, according to Indiana State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville), who introduced the legislation.
“The encounters, as we’ve seen, have increasingly [been] getting more and more violent with people who aren’t necessarily involved in the situation at all,” McNamara said.
“It was a very good thing for not just the safety of law enforcement officers, but for the safety of our citizens,” said Chief Kyle Prewitt of the Plainfield Police Department, who supports the measure.
Law enforcement officials say the law won’t apply to all situations as officers will use discretion.
“Most of the time, people are very attentive to what the police are doing, and they want to be helpful and they stand back,” said Johnson County Prosecutor Lance Hamner. “There are some times when people just won’t be cooperative, or they do want to interfere.”
But the law has drawn criticism from Democrats and other groups.
“While it does have a noble purpose, [it] could be manipulated significantly by law enforcement,” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis).
The legislation is under review by attorneys at the ACLU of Indiana, which argues it hampers the public’s ability to hold police accountable. ACLU of Indiana officially opposes the law, per its website, saying that “while this bill does not mention recording, it is clear that this is an attempt to break down First Amendment protections by making it impossible for citizens to observe and record police interactions in their communities.”
Members of law enforcement deny that the law limits transparency.
“I can capture video from more than 25 feet away, and I’ll oftentimes capture the audio that’s associated with that,” Chief Prewitt said.
The amendment was approved by the Indiana House of Representatives by a 75-20 vote back in March. The law takes effect July 1.