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State lawmakers discuss police body camera rules

Posted at 7:26 PM, Sep 29, 2015

State legislators discussed Tuesday what the rules should be for body cameras worn by police officers.

In West Lafayette, 35 patrol officers are already wearing body cameras. They have been for a year. Chief Jason Dombowski told lawmakers his officers are used to being videotaped in the field, and now they're coming to rely on their own cameras.

"When we roll up for a call for service, there's maybe a dozen iPhones rolling on our officers on what they're doing," Dombowski said.

That's why, he said, he looked into body cameras for cops.

"Not just to tell an incident 50 feet away, 40 feet away from an iPhone and not have the audio and not have the beginning to end, but for us to give our officers a piece of equipment that actually tells the whole story," Dombowski said.

Lawmakers expressed concern over what video would be considered public information, and whether individual citizens' rights to privacy could end up violated.

Jane Henegar of the ACLU of Indiana said protections could be put in place to ensure a fair balance between the public's right to know and the public's right to privacy.

"Different privacy protections should apply to videos that have evidentiary or other legitimate public value and those that do not," Henegar said. "Videos that are newsworthy or otherwise of public importance, such as showing a shooting or otherwise significant use of force, should be made public, while those with no public value should remain private."

A statewide policy for body cameras is a possible topic of discussion for lawmakers in the next legislative session.