Can You Take Pictures of Police Cars?

When taking pictures, you may assume that a police car is like any other car out there, and you decide to take some pictures. If you want to take photos of a police car, there are things you need to know. 

This blog post will tell you everything you want to know on whether you can take pictures of police cars.

Can You Take Pictures of Police Cars

Is it legal to photograph police cars?

You can take pictures of police cars in the US as long as you take the photos from a public location. However, in the United Kingdom, you’re not supposed to take pictures of police cars unless you are given permission. 

As a photographer, you need to know where you can take photos of police cars and whether it’s legal, to prevent you from being arrested.

Places You Can Take Photos of Police Cars

Taking pictures visible in the public area is a constitutional right guaranteed by the First Amendment. This includes taking photos of police cars. Below are public places where you can take pictures of police cars.

  • Sidewalk
  • Street
  • Public parking lot
  • Public beach 

What Not to Do When Taking Photos of a Police Car

Can You Take Pictures of Police Cars?
  • Don’t take photos of people that are injured in police cars. Imagine when you are injured, and someone takes pictures of you and plasters them on the internet.
  • Try not to be secretive when taking pictures of police cars. It’s good to be open when taking police car photos to avoid problems.
  • Don’t trespass on non-public areas of police stations; even though the images you have taken may belong to you, you may be prosecuted for trespassing.
  • If the police car is in motion, don’t use flash photography, which could distract the driver and cause a collision.

5 Things to Know Before Taking Pictures of Police Cars

Am I Allowed to Take Pictures of Police Cars?

You should know five things before taking your camera to take pictures of police cars.

  1. You Have a First Amendment Right to Take Pictures of Police Cars

Primarily, understand that you have the first amendment right to take pictures of a police car in public places as a photographer. It’s a constitutional right; however, states may vary on implementing it.

In general, you have the right to take your camera and take pictures of police cars.

  1. Can the Officer Delete Your Pictures of the Police Cars?

No, police officers cannot delete the pictures you have taken on your camera. Remember, you have the right to take photos in public. If they decide to delete them, they may get into legal trouble.

  1. Can a Police Officer Confiscate Your Camera and Demand to See Photographs You Have Taken?

A police officer needs a warrant to seize your camera or view pictures.

However, courts may approve the seizure of the camera in some cases where police believe that the photographs contain evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves.

  1. You Cannot Break Laws While You are Taking Pictures in Public

You may want to take pictures of police cars, but bear in mind this:

You cannot break any other law in the context of taking photos like trespassing on private property or obstructing police activity while taking pictures of a police car.

A police officer may try to make you stop taking pictures; most of them argue that you obstruct their work and break other rules. However, they may just be saying this to make you stop taking pictures of their cars.

You should understand what the law says and make sure you don’t break some rules while taking pictures.

  1. Know When to Stop Taking Pictures

If you are stopped from taking police car pictures, it doesn’t mean you won’t be questioned or even harassed for taking pictures of police cars.

If they let you free to go, you should go your way and avoid confrontation.

In case of a conflict, you should stay calm and be respectful. You shouldn’t allow a police officer to arrest you on unrelated charges like obstruction of justice.

What To Do When You Are Approaching a Police Car

Is it okay to Pictures of Police Cars?

If you need to take pictures of a police car in a police station, you should visit the police station with a letter requesting them to take some photos of their vehicles.

You can also ask them directly without writing a letter or an email.

If you spot a police car in the streets and you wish to take a photo, if a police officer is near it, it’s courteous to ask if they mind you taking a picture.

If conditions are imposed on you, heed their example, hide the registration number of the police car.

Other Articles In This Series

You might be wondering where else you can take photographs. This series of articles might be of interest:

Final Thoughts

A police car is not like any other vehicle you can take pictures of. While it’s not an offense to take pictures of a police car, you should ensure that you don’t break any rules when taking the photos.

Otherwise, enjoy your photoshoot of the police cars.

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