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Bill would limit access to body camera video

Posted at 8:14 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 20:22:05-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Do you have the right to see police body camera video? Or should police be allowed to keep it private so you never do? A proposal before state lawmakers right now could do just that. 

Videos like the one used to charge a Chicago police officer of murder may never see the light of day under a new bill in Indiana's Statehouse. 

PREVIOUS | VIDEO: Chicago officer fatally shoots teen

House Bill 1019 would restrict who has access to those records. Currently, you can fill out a public records request and get a copy of an officer's body camera video as long as it does not impede an investigation. 

But this bill could prevent people from ever seeing that video.

It's something the Indiana Broadcasters Association-- which RTV6 is a member of -- says is the complete opposite of police transparency. 

"It completely moves the wrong direction. It is a secret government proposal instead of something that is open," Dave Arland with the Indiana Broadcasters Association said. 

RELATED | IMPD releases body cam video of fatal shooting 

One of the bill's co-authors, Rep. Ed Delaney, has fought for civil liberties in the past, and says there is some work to be done. 

"I think the bill is headed in the right direction, there are some very important issues about where you go if you're the press and you want access, and who decides, and under what standards, and we're working on those things. I think there's a lot of progress on it, I think everyone needs to relax a little bit and let the process work," Delaney said. 

According to the bill, someone who wants records would need to file a court order and explain if public interest would be served by releasing the video. They would also need to explain that releasing the video would not create a risk to people, and would not hamper the case in court. It would then be up to a judge to decide. 

"We view this as publicly funded cameras, publicly funded storage system, there has to be a process just as there is with any public record," Arland said. 

"It's very important that the public have confidence that our officers will be wearing those cameras and using them, and under the bill you can't throw them away, you have to hold them for 180 days and if anyone complains then you have to hold it for two years. We're heading in the right direction," Delaney said. 

The IBA says they have provided ideas to the bill's sponsors hoping to find some sort of middle ground. 

RELATED | Butler University Police Department tests body cameras

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