HB 300: Setting Minimum Standards for Police Body Camera Use
This bill passed the House 64-5 and passed the Senate unanimously.
Libertas Institute supports this bill.
Last year, we worked on and supported legislation to create minimum standards for police body camera usage in 2015 along with ACLU Utah and the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. That bill ran out of time and this bill is a continuation of that effort.
House Bill 300, sponsored by Representative Dan McCay, would set statewide minimum standards for the use of body cameras in Utah protecting the rights of all Utahns and providing predictability in the use of police body cameras.
Across the country, police are adopting the use of body-worn cameras in response to the desire of the public for more public transparency in the use of force. The use of body cameras yield better results for both officers and the public. However, the selective or inconsistent use of body cameras can skew the potential evidence that recordings provide. For these reasons, the use of body cameras requires a more thoughtful set of policies to ensure that their use is consistent and predictable across the state and protects the rights of all Utahns equally.
This bill does not mandate law enforcement agencies to use body cameras. However, for those agencies that do utilize cameras, the bill sets minimum standards across the state to follow when implementing a body camera program. Provisions include guidance for when cameras must be turned on, how footage is to be used, and how recordings are to be retained and disclosed. The bill seeks to strike a balance between the needs of law enforcement and the rights of the public.
Key provisions include:
- Law enforcement agencies must have written policies governing body camera usage and make those policies available to the public.
- Body cameras must be activated during any law enforcement encounter and remain on in an uninterrupted manner until the end of the encounter.
- Body camera recordings that record people inside their homes, when they would have an elevated expectation of privacy, can be classified as private by the government entity retaining the recording thereby keeping them from disclosure to the general public under GRAMA.
- Camera footage may not be altered and cannot be copied for personal use.