21 States Study Proposals Curbing Public Access To Police Body Cam Footage


As states require police officers to wear body cameras, many are considering proposals to withhold body cam footage from the public. As outraged civil liberties activists oppose these bills, many are forcing state legislatures to consider allowing for a greater degree of public access, says the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In many states, citizens have the ability to request copies of footage from police worn body cameras through public record laws. However, fear of privacy issues that this new technology may create is causing a rush to propose broad categorical FOIA exemptions of body camera footage, perpetuating the current barrier between many law enforcement officials and the public.

Kansas and Louisiana are among the only states where bills have been introduced that would completely exempt body camera footage from FOIA Legislation has been proposed in over twenty states that includes wording imposing broad restrictions that provide for almost no public access. The Reporters Committee says that of the 26 states that have either introduced or passed a law addressing the question of whether or not the footage should be public record, 21 states have proposed regulations that require additional restrictions that hamper public access. These restrictions range from limits on footage taken in health care facilities to full exemptions unless the individual requesting the recording is the subject of the footage.

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