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Body Cam Bill Lacks Accountability

A Minnesota body cam bill introduced by Senator Latz defines retention, and public dissemination of videos through Data Practices Act requests.

The body cam bill has been supported by law enforcement in the state. Which is not surprising when the bill is read. Most troubling, is:

Paragraph (b) provides that portable recording system data are private data on individuals or nonpublic data unless the recording occurred in a public place and involved the use of a dangerous weapon or physical coercion by a peace officer that causes at least substantial bodily harm.

Any police interaction that is recorded on a body cam, is only public data if the incident involved force and was on public property. This means that if an officer used force (including someone killed by police) on private property, these videos would only be available to the public through a court order. Which gives officers a nice veil to keep any potential malfeasance out of the public view. On top of that, this also would keep videos out of the public view if an officer commits a malfeasance or misfeasance that wasn’t violent.

It’s no surprise that police support this measure. It keeps their accountability low. Which is a slap in the face to the supporters of police accountability. The ones who helped get body cams instituted in the first place.

Though, the legislators were ‘kind’ enough to give citizens an avenue to release a video that should already be available through the Data Practices Act. Thus treating a request for this data the same way that one wants information from an active criminal investigation. Ridiculous:

Paragraph (d) establishes a procedure under which a person may bring an action in district court to authorize the disclosure of portable recording system data that are private or nonpublic. This is based on current law that provides for disclosure of active investigative data.

The bill just recently just passed the Senate. Make sure to contact your legislators! The bill can be read in its entirety here.

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