WIUM Tristates Public Radio

States Might Restrict Access to Police Body Camera Videos

May 5, 2015

The RTDNA reports legislators in at least 18 states are considering measures to regulate public access to video from police body cameras.  Those states include Iowa and Missouri.

Shop Talk panelist Rich Egger disagrees with any proposal to limit the public’s ability to see such videos.  He considers the videos akin to recordings of calls made to 911 centers, which should also be available to the public.

Egger also cautioned that body camera video might not always shed much light on police interactions with the public. He pointed to a recent case in Burlington as an example.

Nonetheless, panelist Jasmine Crighton said any documentation of such interactions should be made available to citizens – and especially to reporters.   She said body camera video doesn’t just protect citizens – it can also protect police against false allegations.

Panelist Rich Moreno said body camera video might be the only way reporters and the public can find out what happened in some cases.  He said it might have helped with the investigation into the Freddie Gray case.  Gray is the 25-year old African-American man who died last month while in custody of Baltimore police.

Moreno said transparency – which could be provided by police body cameras – might be the only way to regain public trust in institutions such as the police.

The Shop Talk crew also criticized a new media policy in Minnesota that prohibits any photography or videography of prison inmates.  They learned of it from the RTDNA, which also opposes the policy.