Critics target public access provisions of body cameras bill

Written by Emily Previti, Keystone Crossroads Reporter | Oct 20, 2016 7:25 AM


York City Police Officer James Knarr, wearing a body camera, listens to Chief Wes Kahley as he shares information about the new camera during a news conference. At the time, Kahley stressed the privacy of citizens and not video recording them in their homes. SB976 proposes allowing the cameras' use inside private residences. (Photo: Jason Plotkin, York Daily Record)

(Harrisburg) -- Body cameras are becoming increasingly popular among Pennsylvania police departments. But some municipalities say they're deterred by the expense of storing footage and dealing with public access.

The state Senate passed a bill, 45-5, this week that now contains what critics say are overly restrictive public access rules added to the proposal nearly one year after it was introduced. They say the provisions negate the benefits of transparency afforded by the cameras.

The measure would let law enforcement withhold body camera video if it's more than two weeks old or deemed investigative

Anyone who wants to appeal a denial would first have to alert everyone who appears onscreen before filing with the courts, which would cost $250.

The requestor would have to alert everyone who appears onscreen before starting the process. 

The legislation also would require recording interrogations of violent crime suspects, and let police use body cameras while responding to an incident within a private residence.

The House is expected to consider the bill next week.

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