In recent months, there’s been much debate and discourse among Americans about police officers and use of excessive and deadly force. In an effort to regain the public’s trust and provide for more transparency, many police departments across the U.S. have adopted the widespread use of police body cameras. In Minnesota, respondents of the 2015 Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association revealed that body cameras are currently being used by 41 police departments throughout the state.
While the benefits of police body cameras in aiding in criminal cases and reducing incidents of police violence are often discussed, concerns remain about how the footage is stored, accessed and disposed of. Members of the Minnesota Senate recently voiced their opinion on these matters when they passed a measure that would restrict who can access police body camera footage.
Currently, anyone can request and access the video footage captured by police body cameras. This unlimited access, however, raises many privacy concerns as the videos can be posted to public sites like YouTube where they can be seen by anyone and used for a variety of purposes. The recently passed measure seeks to restrict access to police body camera footage to only those individuals directly involved in an incident or in cases where “the use of force” caused “bodily harm.”
As the measure moves to the House, its future is uncertain as it was included as part of a larger bill related to “how police collect and retain information from automated license plate readers.” If passed, that measure would allow police officers to retain and store license plate scans for up to 90 days.
Source: MNPNews.org, “Senate passes limit on access to police body cam videos,” Tom Scheck, May 7, 2015