The Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation (HB 947) governing when police body camera video is available under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) on March 21, 2016. The legislation is one of MACo’s 2016 legislative initiatives. Delegate Charles Sydnor is the bill sponsor. The bill is designed to protect the privacy of citizens and victims of certain types of crimes, provide certainty and clarity to records custodians as which videos could be subject to PIA requests, and provide law enforcement accountability and transparency.
The bill, which passed the House on a vote of 130-8, included amendments supported by MACo and crafted with the participation of the Maryland Municipal League, Maryland Association of Boards of Education, Maryland Delaware DC Press Association, Common Cause of Maryland, Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, ACLU of Maryland, and State and local law enforcement.
As amended, the bill restricts the release of video showing potential victims or identifying information of potential victims of domestic abuse, sexual crimes, or certain kinds of abuse. A potential perpetrator of such crimes can view a video showing himself or herself but cannot receive a copy of the video under the PIA and the potential victim will be notified that the potential perpetrator requested viewing the video.
The bill also restricts the release of video where no significant police interaction with the public occurred. Incidents resulting in arrests, searches, injury, death, or alleged officer misconduct remain subject to PIA requests. The bill does not in any way affect the access, discovery or evidentiary rights of individuals engaged in criminal or civil litigation.
The bill’s cross-file, SB 930, was heard by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 1. The Committee has not taken action on the bill.
For further information, please contact Les Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410.269.0043.