The release of footage is on of the most discussed topics in debates on police body cameras. Those interested in holding police officers accountable for their behavior understandably want access to police body camera footage. However, there are legitimate privacy concerns that have to be considered. Balancing privacy rights while increasing law enforcement accountability is crucial, but not all lawmakers and law enforcement officials have performed this balancing act well.
For instance, legislation in South Carolina exempts police body camera footage from the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The law allows a select group of people — including subjects of the footage, their attorneys, and a few others — to view body camera video, but it does not allow journalists or nonprofits to have access to the footage. In Los Angeles, police body camera footage is not publicly available unless its release is prompted by a court proceeding.
Bowser’s proposal is perhaps not perfect, but it is better than the policies in place in South Carolina and Los Angeles. The proposal allows for some access while aiming to protect privacy rights.