Legislator: Police video bill “a step in the right direction”

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – Law enforcement officers around the state could keep body camera and dashcam videos from the public. After Thursday’s unanimous state senate vote in favor of House Bill 1019, the bill is now headed to Governor Mike Pence’s desk. It establishes a process for the government release of body and dash cam footage.

“I think the legislature recognized that they needed to do something to get something on the books about body cameras,” said Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt.

Under the bill, law enforcement agencies will be able to decide whether to release footage. If they don’t, that decision can be challenged in court. The agency would then have 30 days to prove that releasing the video would harm someone or hinder an investigation.

One state lawmaker is calling the bill a compromise, saying the interests of law enforcement, privacy rights and transparency are met. Britt said that’s not the case.

“I agree that it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s a balance at this point and to have to go to court to fight to get a copy, I think puts the advantage toward law enforcement.”

Chairman of the Indiana Broadcasters Association Dave Crooks said they’ve taken an aggressive stand on this measure. They believe that government recordings made possible through public funding should be made available to the public.

“We commend the Indiana legislature for listening to their constituents on this important public interest issue,” Crooks said. “While the bill is not perfect, the IBA worked diligently with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to find balance that will increase public access and right to information and simultaneously protect law enforcement agencies across the state.”

Under the bill, people affected by the recordings are allowed to view the video twice. They just can’t have it.

The bill previously required video to be released if a victim said it showed excessive force or or civil rights violations, but that provision was stripped.

 

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