State Law Enforcement Body Camera Policies
In the wake of recent events, many states are considering law enforcement body camera policies. EPIC opposes the use of “police cams” and warned Congress that body cameras could “become the next surveillance technology disproportionately aimed at the most marginalized members of society.” EPIC also pointed to the potential liability for cities if harmful images are posted online. EPIC explained that there are “more productive means to achieve police accountability that do not carry the risk of increasing surveillance.” EPIC stressed that if body cameras are deployed, police departments must comply with all privacy and open government laws. EPIC has also testified before the D.C. City Council on the issue.
State Laws: California, Florida and North Dakota
California considers body-camera videos public records and requires law enforcement to release video to the public no later than 45 days after an incident is recorded. The law has minor exceptions for disclosure including if releasing the video would violate the privacy rights of individuals depicted. Florida and North Dakota have recently passed laws regarding the availability of police cam footage under public records laws. Florida’s law exempts from public records law any body camera video obtained inside a private residence, a health care, mental health care or social services facility or is taken in a place that a reasonable person would expect to be private. North Dakota’s law exempts any images taken in a private place by law enforcement from open records law.
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Access to Police Body-Worn Camera Video
- Brennan Center for Justice, Police Body-Worn Camera Policies
- The Leadership Conference, Police Body Worn Cameras: A Policy Scorecard
- EPIC Blog: “Police Body Cameras: Accountability or Public Surveillance?” (Jeramie Scott, January 29, 2015)
- EPIC Testimony, “Can Technology Increase Protection for Law Enforcement Officers and the Public?” submitted to the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Senate Committee on the Judiciary (May 19, 2015).
- EPIC Testimony, “Public Oversight Roundtable on the Metropolitan Police Department’s Body-Worn Camera Program”, D.C. City Council Committee on the Judiciary (May 7, 2015).
- NCSL: Police Use of Body-Cameras.
- National Institute of Justice: Research on Body-Worn Cameras and Law Enforcement
- Brookings: Do Body-Worn Cameras Improve Police Behavior? (2017)
- Michael D. White, Police Body-Worn Cameras: Assessing the Evidence (2014).
- Washington Post: Police accountability measures flood state legislatures after Ferguson, Staten Island (February 4, 2015).