Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Legislation Would Let Police Decide Whether To Publicly Release Videos

Indiana's public access law is already one of the weakest in the nation. Indiana lawmakers are now proposing changes to the law in the form of HB 1019 to allow police departments across the state to decide whether to release videos captured by a body cam worn by a police officer, installed on the dash of a police car or placed along streets and highways. In other words, police will only release the video if it serves their self-interest.

“What this bill does is hand all the records to law enforcement as far as the release of cruiser or body camera footage,” Stephen Key of the Hoosier State Press Association told the Marion Chronicle-Tribune. "It creates a category that says they can use the footage at their own discretion and keep it confidential without pretext to protect an ongoing investigation."

"The democratic process needs to take place here and the bills needs to be given a fair hearing," Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Marion), a former Blackford county sheriff  who is sponsoring the legislation told the Chronicle-Tribune said.  "The public needs to know things that are going on, but there’s an aspect of timing involved in every situation. I know the media gets upset and they want everything right now, but anytime we are dealing with legislation we are doing everything we can to benefit the public." Excuse me, but there's nothing beneficial to the public in this piece of crap legislation you are offering Rep. Mahan.

Rep. Mahan is joined in sponsoring this this Nazi state-styled legislation by State Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis), State Rep. John Price (R-Martinsville), State Rep. Sharon Negelle (R-Merrillville).

Hat tip to Indiana Law Blog.

UPDATE: The House Committee on Government & Regulatory Reform unanimously passed the bill out of committee without any changes. The Hoosier State Press Association's Steve Key discussed the difficulty the legislation poses for those citizens who are shown in police video footage:
. . .  Key, of the press association, said even the provisions in the proposed Indiana bill that allow for release are concerning. While the person shown in the footage can view the video, the bill does not also require the department to give them a copy. That decision is up to the department.
That language, Key said, could create the following scenario: Should the person or relative contend that the video depicts an officer behaving badly, they would not have a copy of the video to publicly support their claim.
If the person shown in the video is denied a copy, they could take the agency to court. Unlike the general public, the person also would be entitled to recoup attorneys' fees if they successfully argue for the copy . . . 
Incredibly, State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) provided the excuse of protecting the privacy of persons shown in video footage as a reason for passing this worst in the nation bill.
"Which becomes more important?" she asked. "The privacy aspect of the individuals involved in the situation, or the public's need to, you know, hang a rope around peoples' necks at the jump of a video?"
McNamara continued: "If we had a sense that the media was going to be impartial — was not going to sensationalize it — then I wouldn't have a problem. But that's not the era we're living in right now."
How the hell do these people get elected to the legislature? Are our voters that stupid? A lot of these lawmakers like to go out and party and drink a lot. I think they're more afraid about being caught on video by a dash cam or body cam during a traffic stop making a fool of themselves for all of us to see. If they get special treatment and word leaks of it, that video is the best weapon the public had to hold the person getting special treatment held accountable.


Anonymous said...

In many ways, the Nazis were a better government to ordinary Germans than the American government is to its citizens.

Anonymous said...

As good Hoosiers prone to conform and let other people do our thinking for us, we must accept us. I mean, there's no way they would propose this if it wasn't for our own good. We're lucky to live here in a state that works...for some, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I thought the point of these cameras was to make everything more transparent. As a police supporter I assumed more cameras would tend to exonerate more police officers from false claims. I don't see the point of keeping them for internal review. I doubt the Courts would support that.

Anonymous said...

Gary, can or will you, please, take steps to get this information out to every news agency in the state? Having dealt with some really underhanded "officers of the law" in the state of Indiana, I can say for a fact that this bill should never ever get passed. I had one officer tell me that he had body cam video on his computer going back 8 years. What is the current law in Indiana as regards to how long they can keep video and is there a difference if the video is involved in a criminal case or not?

Flogger said...

An Arizona state senator has proposed legislation that would restrict, and in some cases prohibit, the recording of police unless the officer has given express permission.

The bill, which was proposed last week by senator John Kavanagh, would make it unlawful to film an officer from within 20 feet, or in the same room as the officer in a private residence, and would make it a class 3 misdemeanor to continue filming after a verbal warning from police to stop.

Arizona is open carry on firearms, but cameras are sooo dangerous.

Indy Rob said...

I have not believed the idea that police or security footage should be withheld pending completing an investigation, this has always seemed to be a lot of hooey to justify only releasing it when the police look good; this legislation is just codifying what the police would prefer to do instead of being answerable for all of their actions. The law instead should make all footage available within 48 hours or some other short time period.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anon 1:49, The Hoosier State Press Association's lobbyist is quoted in the story. Obviously, the news media is aware of it through their trade organization if they want to make an issue of it.

Anonymous said...

And even when it is released, more times than not, the family will still continue the "he was a good boy who was turning his life around", or "he only shot at the popo and tried to run them over because he was scared"....