Dash-cam videos have fueled a national debate on police tactics. In Pennsylvania, those images remain largely out of sight under state laws that give law enforcement broad power to keep out of public view anything considered to be investigative material, the Associated Press reports. A statewide survey found that police agencies invoked those laws to deny 10 of 25 requests made by newspapers. In 10 other instances, they said they didn’t have the recordings, either because they had been erased, handed off to prosecutors or other departments, or the recorder was turned off or nonexistent.
Five departments disclosed at least some of what their officers’ vehicle cameras recorded at specific scenes identified by journalists during a coordinated test of how public entities are applying the state Right-to-Know Law. The legal standards for disclosure of police dash and body cameras could soon change, depending how the state Supreme Court rules in a woman’s request to obtain state police dash-cam video from a 2014 traffic accident involving her friend. State police argued that altering current rules would mean expensive frame-by-frame reviews, could compromise investigations, and might expose people to public scrutiny against their wishes. News groups have argued that police actions that are not truly investigative in nature should be available for people to review and the recordings tend to increase the accountability of government.