Body-worn camera system; use by the Department of State Police. (HB1534)

Introduced By

Del. Mark Berg (R-Winchester)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Use of body-worn camera system by the Department of State Police. Requires the Superintendent of State Police to implement and operate a body-worn camera system, which is defined by the bill as an electronic system for creating, generating, sending, receiving, storing, displaying, and processing audiovisual recordings, including cameras or other devices capable of creating such recordings that may be worn about the person of a law-enforcement officer, and require all officers be equipped with a body-worn camera. The bill provides that the Department of State Police shall, on a daily basis, transmit all recordings made by the system during the previous 24-hour period to a database maintained by the Attorney General. Recordings shall be retained in the database for 30 days but may be retained longer if relevant for the investigation of a crime. The bill also provides that recordings in the database shall not be disclosed except pursuant to a court order or when an allegation that a law-enforcement officer has engaged in unlawful onduct has been made. The bill provides further that any other law-enforcement agency in the Commonwealth may implement and operate a body-worn camera system subject to the same requirements as the system operated by the State Police. Finally, the bill provides that any person who knowingly disseminates any audiovisual recording created through the operation of a body-worn camera system in violation of the limitations on such dissemination is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
01/06/2015Committee
01/06/2015Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/15 15101742D
01/06/2015Impact statement from VCSC (HB1534)
01/06/2015Referred to Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety
01/15/2015Assigned MPPS sub: Subcommittee #2
01/22/2015Subcommittee recommends laying on the table
02/10/2015Left in Militia, Police and Public Safety

Comments

ACLU-VA Privacy Rights, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Police body cameras have the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse. But, while body cams have the potential to become a positive accountability mechanism, the ACLU of Virginia urges the General Assembly to ensure that the following policies are in place before these body cameras are purchased and deployed:
o Police wearing body cams should be required to inform people with whom they are interacting that they are being recorded, especially when entering a home, office, or other private space. And, residents should be able to request that the body camera be turned off when entering their home, unless it is an emergency situation or the officer has a warrant;
o The policy should be clear about when the body cams are to be turned on and off, and individual officers must not have discretion to turn them on and off at will;
o The policy should be clear about what happens to the video from the body cams, where it is stored, how long it is stored, and who has access to it (including ensuring consent from the individual(s) filmed before the content is made public and access to the video by the person filmed); and
o The law enforcement agency and public officials and citizens outside the agency should review the videos on an ongoing basis to determine whether the videos provide information that suggests that police are acting inappropriately or exhibiting bias. Action should be taken to address issues where they are identified, subject to proper procedural protections for the officers involved.
With these policies in place, police body cams can help (re)build trust between law enforcement and the community, reduce police liability, and provide the public with a tool to assure accountability.