State Law Enforcement Body Camera Policies

Introduction

Law Enforcement Body Camera imageIn 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.

New State Laws: Florida and North Dakota

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.

Top News

  • Report: Body Cameras Failed to Improve Police Behavior + (Oct. 20, 2017)
    In the largest study to date of police body cameras, a new report concluded that the cameras had no impact on police use of force and civilian complaints. The report is a result of a project in Washington, D.C. to assess the benefits of the body cameras worn by the Metropolitan Police Department. EPIC previously testified before the D.C. City Council, warning of the risks of mass public surveillance and arguing that police body cameras were "an intrusive and ineffective technology that does not address underlying problems with police accountability."
  • EPIC Warns Boston City Council of Risks of Body Cameras + (Aug. 5, 2015)
    EPIC submitted a statement for the record today for the Boston City Council hearing on mandating body cameras for the Boston Police. EPIC opposes the use of "police cams" and warned the city council 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.
  • South Carolina Requires Police Body Cameras, But Blocks Public Access to Footage + (Jun. 12, 2015)
    South Carolina has become the first state to require law enforcement agencies to deploy body cameras. However, the law exempts police body camera footage from public records law, which appears contrary to the stated goal of promoting police accountability. Many states are considering similar legislation and EPIC's State Policy Project is monitoring bills nationwide. EPIC has submitted testimony to Congress and the D.C. City Council opposing the deployment of body cameras. But where body-worn cameras are deployed, EPIC recommends that the police agencies comply with open government laws.
  • Florida Blocks Public Access to Police Body Camera Footage + (May. 27, 2015)
    Florida, a state with very broad open government laws, has exempted police body camera footage 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 from public records law. Many states are considering similar legislation and EPIC's State Policy Project is monitoring bills nationwide. EPIC has submitted testimony to Congress and the D.C. City Council in opposition to the deployment of body cameras. But, where body-worn cameras are deployed, EPIC recommends no exemptions from open government laws.
  • EPIC Warns Congress of Risks of Body Cameras + (May. 20, 2015)
    EPIC submitted a statement for the record today for the Senate hearing "Can Technology Increase Protection for Law Enforcement Officers and the Public?". 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 Warns DC City Council of Risks of Police Body Cameras + (May. 8, 2015)
    EPIC National Security Counsel Jeramie Scott testified today at a hearing before the D.C. City Council regarding police body-worn cameras. EPIC opposes deployment of "police cams" and warned the D.C. Council of the risks of mass public surveillance. EPIC also pointed to potential liability for the city if harmful images are posted online. EPIC's Scott said there are "more productive means to achieve police accountability that do not carry the risk of increasing surveillance." Scott added that if body cameras are deployed, then the Metropolitan Police Department must comply with all privacy and accountability laws.

Additional Resources

Pending Legislation

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