Proposed bill details when police body cam video can be released

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COLUMBIA - Experts in law enforcement and media both support a Missouri bill that specifically defines what mobile police recordings the public should have access to, but the Missouri Press Association is concerned with some parts of the recently proposed bill. 

"The very last portion of the bill, there's a paragraph on the last page that we feel may be unconstitutional," said Missouri Press Association Executive Director Doug Crews. "That's why I have two attorneys looking at this right now."

Crews says he believes the final paragraph in proposed HB 2344 restricts media. 

Paragraph 8 of the bill says anyone who requests and receives police camera footage taken in a non public place must ask permission from those in the footage before airing or reproducing the video. 

Crews says he has attorneys looking at the section to see if any rewording or elimination is needed, but the bill is in its early stages.

Boone County Detective Thomas O'Sullivan said there are times where the premature distribution of video can impede an investigation or obstruct someone's reasonable expectation of privacy.

"It can invade privacy if a police officer is walking into someone's house with a camera on," O'Sullivan said. "No one wants that."

If passed, the bill would allow for more "time spent reviewing" mobile police recordings and their availability to the public. 

"There's got to be a balance," Crews said. "That's what we were looking for last year, a balanced bill that would make the video eventually open. We see the police, their point of view, we see the police point of view too. We just think this is a step in the right direction."

Rep. Kenneth Wilson (R), Smithville will propose the bill during the second regular session.