February 24, 2016

Police Body Camera Bill Gains Support After Changes

A Senate committee has advanced legislation governing the release police body camera footage. - AP photo

A Senate committee has advanced legislation governing the release police body camera footage.

AP photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- Legislation governing how police body camera videos are released to the public underwent significant changes as a Senate committee advanced it Wednesday.  Now, all sides of the issue largely support the measure.

If members of the public or the press want access to police body camera footage, the legislation would now require law enforcement to prove why the video shouldn’t be released.  The original version of that bill put the burden of proof on the press or the public.

The remaining point of contention involves videos that potentially show the use of excessive force or civil rights violations by the police.  The legislation essentially says those videos should be automatically released.  The measure’s author Rep. Kevin Mahan says he’s worried that provision will lead people to goad police into using excessive force.

“Now we got a situation where we may potentially have a trial that’s going to be played out on the nightly news or in the newspaper from here on out," Mahan said. "My concern is it might actually encourage people that want to go down with guns a-blazing.”

Mahan says he’ll continue working on that issue during the rest of the legislative session.

The amended bill also includes a requirement for how long videos must be retained, and it allows law enforcement to charge as much as $150 in fees when a member of the public or the press gets a copy of a video.

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