Friday, January 30, 2015

Bill to keep police body cam video private raises alarm

A bill introduced in the Minnesota House on Thursday would keep any videos recorded by police body cameras private, alarming those who say it would hinder efforts to hold police accountable

Sponsors say the cameras are likely to record embarrassing personal information about people dealing with police at extremely traumatic points in their lives.

But others say if the videos are kept secret it defeats the purpose of the cameras, which is to record how officers interact with the public — and serve as a check on police abusing their authority.
A handful of police departments across Minnesota already are using body cameras.

State law requires body camera video to be accessible to the public. But some lawmakers say it should be private to protect the public from embarrassing situations.

"You could have a half naked housewife that's been beat up with a bloody face, half naked kids running around," said state Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center. "You could have a gun collection. That information needs to remain private."

Cornish, chair of the House Public Safety Committee, introduced a bill that would classify the video from body cameras as private data accessible only to law enforcement and the subjects of the video. He said privacy concerns and the cost of redacting data are the reasons to keep the videos confidential.

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