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15 State Legislatures Considering Bills to Limit Public Access to Police Video

March 23, 2015  | 

Legislatures are seeking to limit public access to police videos, in order to preserve the privacy of subjects and save money. (Photo: File Photo)
Legislatures are seeking to limit public access to police videos, in order to preserve the privacy of subjects and save money. (Photo: File Photo)

State legislators around the country are pushing to make it much harder for the public to obtain police officer body camera videos, undermining their promise as a tool people can use to hold law enforcement accountable.

Lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced bills to exempt video recordings of police encounters with citizens from state public records laws, or to limit what can be made public.

Their stated motive: preserving the privacy of people being videotaped, and saving considerable time and money that would need to be spent on public information requests as the technology quickly becomes widely used.

Advocates for open government and civil rights are alarmed, the Associated Press reports.


Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

kevCopAz @ 3/23/2015 4:35 PM

Im not a great legal scholar, but should be rather simple. Go by the same laws that regulate releasing departmental reports and information. If the investigation is still underway and releaseing the video (reports etc) would or even could interfere with that investigation then video/reports etc are not released. If the release could influence such things as jury pool selection etc never release until court is over. Once the investigation is over, any court proceedings are over and it does not endanger victims, witnesses or officers then everything in videos and police reports should be released. Some redaction may be necessary to protect folks but for the most part once its adjudicated then release them not before. Seems common sense and simple, obviously I am NOT an attorney or a Judge if I think that way.

tom @ 3/24/2015 5:45 AM

It all comes down to the money. How much does it cost an agency to have someone review the video, to duplicate the video, to have a review by the municipal attorney ? Once you factor these costs into it, most people will not want to pay to get the copy. This is the same thing that is done for an FOIA request, and I believe should apply to any video or audio request. Our department has a minimum $5.00 copy fee for any report. It is amazing how many people decide they don't want a copy of something, when they find out it will cost them $5.00. Just imagine how many will have second thoughts about a DVD copy of a video that could cost hundreds of dollars. Just sayin.

TX Lawman @ 3/24/2015 6:22 AM

We have already had several groups here and the media asking for every video we have. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars in costs. Money is the main issue for us, not what's on the video.

TMF @ 3/24/2015 7:33 AM

I respectfully disagree "kevCopAz." On your point of redacting, this can be a time consuming process and create a burden. Video evidence, unlike written reports, give a visual description of the incident which will make its way through social media and probably land on every news station and more fodder for an unfriendly vocal political group. We have nothing to hide but with this technology I don't think for now its a good idea. I don't think the public can handle the truth.

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