The borough council wants to ban people from taking photographs and videos inside public buildings, with certain exclusions.
The ordinance comes at the heels of an incident earlier this month in which Richard Recine, working part time as a special police officer, was captured on video at the borough’s Municipal Building telling Steve Wronko that “Obama has decimated the friggin’ Constitution, so I don’t give a damn,” after Wronko insisted he has a constitutional right to take pictures inside the building.
The video, first reported by MyCentralJersey.com, went viral, and Recine later resigned. The Wronkos said they were at the Municipal Building to file public-record requests regarding the puppy they adopted from the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter. The Wronkos said police had ordered them to stop video recording at the animal shelter during two previous incidents.
Under the proposed ordinance, a permit would have to be secured and approved by the borough before any photographs or videos could be taken on the interior of any public building. The proposed ordinance does not apply to the taking of pictures and videos at any meetings which are held in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.
The first reading of the proposed ordinance was unanimously approved at Wednesday’s council meeting. A second reading is scheduled for the Sept. 24 meeting.
“Some pictures that have been taken are misleading,” Councilwoman Yvette Bruno said. “Some pictures have been taken of underage children volunteering at the shelter. It needs to be addressed.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said the ordinance could be problematic.
“We think it’s inappropriate to have such a broad based ban that would include public nonsensitive areas of public buildings,” Edward Barocas, legal director at the ACLU-NJ, said.