“First Amendment auditors” a concern for Utah law enforcement

Feb 23, 2022, 9:48 AM
first amendment auditors citizen journalists...
Members of ttah law enforcement are expressing concern over self-described citizen journalists who record police activity for social media. Photo: Canva

The Cache County sheriff says he’s concerned about people that call themselves first amendment auditors, who try to record public buildings like police stations and even private businesses, for their YouTube channels.

Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen said that, many times, these people are trying to gain access and record in restricted areas of public buildings and police investigations.

“When officers and troopers have been out on traffic stops, (they’ve) tried to interfere and record and ask questions while (the officers) are trying to finish up whatever incident they’re working on,” Jensen said.

According to First Amendment Watch, a journalism project out of New York University, many of these audits “are non-violent and uneventful. But some encounters have escalated dramatically, resulting in arrest and litigation.”

Sheriff Jensen said one individual has gone as far as to bait police into reacting, reportedly looking for content for his YouTube channel. That, Jensen said, creates a bad precedent for officers given resentment by some toward law enforcement.

The Cache County Sheriff’s office has been dealing with one so-called First Amendment auditor who reportedly has tried to go past the lobby of the department. This auditor has also interfered with investigations by trying to record, Jensen said. 

It’s a concern shared by Sgt. Cameron Roden with the Utah Highway Patrol who said they’ve been aware of so-called First Amendment auditors for some time.

“There may be sensitive information, or there may be security protocol or things that they’re not allowed to film,” Roden told KSL NewsRadio.


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“First Amendment auditors” a concern for Utah law enforcement