August 26, 2015

Lawmakers Wrestling With Issue Of Public Access To Police Body Camera Footage

Indiana law doesn’t provide specific direction as to whether footage from police body cameras, like this one, should be available to the public.   - AP photo

Indiana law doesn’t provide specific direction as to whether footage from police body cameras, like this one, should be available to the public.

AP photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- Lawmakers on a study committee Wednesday wrestled with issues involved with public records requests for police body camera footage.  

Indiana law doesn’t provide specific direction as to whether police body camera footage should be available to the public.  And Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt says other states and cities have a wide variety of policies. 

Seattle, for instance, posts all of its body cam footage online, with faces blurred out, while Britt says South Carolina recently passed a law barring any body cam videos from being released except when compelled by a subpoena.

“And I would encourage you as policymakers and lawmakers to maybe explore that happy medium – somewhere between absolute disclosure, which may compromise privacy, and absolute withholding, which I don’t think is in the best interest of the public either,” Britt said.

Indiana State Police legal counsel Brad Hoffeditz cautions against broad public access to body cam videos.  He says law enforcement agencies that use body cameras report less cooperation from victims because, as he puts it, “victims don’t usually like to be videotaped.” 

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