A California lawmaker has proposed a bill that would create greater transparency by requiring law-enforcement agencies to release body camera video and recordings of police shootings and other significant incidents, something that has been at the center of a long-standing national debate.
The proposal, introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, would establish a statewide policy for when bodycam footage and other audio and video recordings should be released, at a time when there is a push across the country for bodycam recordings to be released more quickly after fatal police shootings, KPCC reports.
Assembly Bill 748 would amend California’s public records statute to limit the discretion police departments have for withholding police videos and would require them to release videos in cases where officers have used force or where there is believed to be a violation of law or public policy.
Of course the measure is opposed by more than a dozen law-enforcement agencies, and according to KPCC, the contention is that it should be up to local police departments when, if ever, bodycam footage is released.
Measures similar to this one have been proposed by state lawmakers in the last few years, but none have passed, and as KPCC notes, some departments, including the Los Angeles Police Department, consider bodycam footage to be an investigative record and therefore exempt from the state’s open-records laws.
While Ting says he believes that his bill will “strike a fair balance,” Craig Lally president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents city police officers, says he believes that it will kill “the impartiality of the investigation process.”
The state Senate’s Public Safety Committee has a hearing scheduled Tuesday to address A.B. 748.
Of course the police union is against it. Of course law-enforcement agencies are against it. Of course no one wants this to be a thing because it would mean greater accountability for those who have been trusted for so long to do the right thing, yet have done the wrong thing under questionable circumstances in so many recent incidents.
Let’s get this law on the books in California and every other state in the nation.
Read more at KPCC.