Legislators debate accessibility of police camera video
JEFFERSON CITY – A Missouri House committee passed a bill Thursday that would control data from police body cameras.
The bill specifies when mobile video recordings from police investigations are considered open or closed records. These mobile video recordings could be from police body cameras or dashboard cameras.
Doug Crews, legislative director of the Missouri Press Association, testified against the bill. Crews said they believe this bill is much better than bills that were introduced during the 2015 session because they would have closed police videos to the public.
“It’s important to the public to know what the police, in this case, are doing representing the public. They are employees of the public,” Crews said.
This bill requires any mobile video recording in a private location to be closed unless authorized by a judge.
Sheldon Lineback, the executive director of the Missouri Police Chief Association, said there is an expectation of privacy, especially when police enter a private home. He said police body cameras can’t control what is recorded on camera, whether that’s children, the layout of a home or any valuable item on display.
“It’s a piece of evidence and if it’s in a nonpublic situation, let the judges decide,” Lineback said.
The bill would add mobile video records to the list of data that will remain closed until an investigation remains inactive.
A House committee recently added an amendment to the bill to lower the cost of the record if the purpose is in the public’s interest. Crews said one of his main concerns is the cost of records.
“If records are too expensive it shuts out the public for those records,” Crews said.
The Senate has not heard the bill yet.
This story has been updated for content.