On March 12, 2015 Les Knapp, MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, testified to the House Judiciary Committee to support, with amendments, HB 308, Public Safety- Law Enforcement Officers- Video Cameras and HB 627, Public Safety- Law Enforcement Officers- Body-Worn Cameras. These bills authorizes law enforcement agencies to use body cameras and requires set forth certain policies for their use. HB 627 is far more prescriptive in its local government requirements than HB 308.
The MACo amendments asked for more local flexibility (especially for HB 627) and to exempt camera video from the Public Information Act (PIA) over concerns of privacy and practicality.
The HB 308 testimony states:
To fairly respect citizen privacy, HB 308 should also be amended to ensure that while these recordings are available to directly affected parties, they should not be subject to broad public record requests. Wide public access to video recordings can create unwarranted invasions of citizen privacy, including matters totally unrelated to the actual police activity. These recordings can be easily and widely disseminated on the internet or through social media to embarrass or retaliate against recorded subjects, who may or may not be related to an investigation or guilty of any crime. Additionally, “fishing expeditions” can be costly and time-consuming, burdening agencies’ resources and taking time away from law enforcement activities. Recordings should only be available upon request to individuals involved in a recorded police interaction, relatives of an individual who became deceased during the filming of an interaction, or to court authorities as part of a legal investigation.
The HB 627 testimony explains:
Individual law enforcement agencies should be given greater flexibility in how they manage and implement their body-worn camera programs. Each local law enforcement agency is different and given their variation in size, services provided, budget, and constituents policed, it is difficult to put forward such detailed one-size-fits-all requirements.
The cross file of HB 627 is SB 482, which was heard in Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 26, 2015.
For more on MACo 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.