MACo Backs Smart, Flexible Approach on Body Cameras

SB 482, Public Safety – Law Enforcement Officers – Body-Worn Cameras, was heard in Judicial Proceedings on February 26. MACo Policy Analyst Natasha Mehu testified in support of the bill with amendments. This bill establishes a comprehensive set of requirements for law enforcement officers and law enforcement agencies in regards to body-worn cameras. Body-worn cameras is an innovative technology that can be used as a tool to increase police/community relations and maintain accountability. However, SB 482 removes the local autonomy that is required to effectively use this new technology.

The written testimony explains:

However, body-worn cameras are still an emerging technology. Much is still being learned about the benefits, drawbacks, and limitations of their use as law enforcement agencies begin to adopt and deploy the technology. It is important for agencies to have set and clear policies on the use of cameras that garner the trust of the public. However, statewide requirements need to be balanced against local management. SB 482 should be amended to provide law enforcement agencies with greater flexibility to manage the protocols and protections that should be put in place to ensure video recordings are not widely available under public records requests.

MACo’s recommended amendments include:

  • Local flexibility for camera use and record retention protocols
  • Limiting public records requests

For more on MACo’s 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.