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Policy addresses recording of meetings

POSTED: November 8, 2012 12:34 a.m.

A Forsyth County policy adopted Tuesday sets some rules for recording public meetings.

The county commission voted 5-0 on the audio/video recording and photography policy, whose guidelines County Manager Doug Derrer said protect the rights of others and prevent safety hazards while allowing the public access as set forth in the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

The policy will allow those recording to do so with a handheld device from any seat in the public seating area, Derrer said.

“It goes on to say the user shall not move about the room or otherwise be disruptive,” he said. “The user shall not block rows, aisles, exits or any other areas, or impede any other attendees’ unobstructed use of the area.”

An exception is made for briefly capturing a ceremonial event, such as recognition of a community member.

Those with devices on tripods, monopods or other setups must stand in a designated area, Derrer said.

That space has already been in use for the commissioners’ meeting room in suite 210, which is typically the site of work sessions.

In the commissioners’ auditorium, Derrer said the five seats in the back, on the window side, will be removed to allow an area for non-handheld recording.

Rooms without a specified recording area will be determined by the staff member running the meeting, he said.

The policy is similar to the city of Cumming’s requirement that those with tripods set up in the back corner of the City Hall meeting room in a taped-off area.

The designated area appeared shortly after Nydia Tisdale, a Roswell resident and Forsyth County political activist, was escorted from an April meeting with her camera.

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office and Tisdale have pending suits against the city over the incident.

Commissioner Patrick Bell said the timing of passing the policy stems from an issue with an attendee recording during a Nov. 1 meeting.

“This has been in the works for a while,” Bell said. “It just made sense to go ahead and put it in place.”


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