A California lawmaker has proposed a bill that would create greater transparency by requiring law enforcement agencies to release body camera video and recordings of police shootings and other significant incidents, something that has been at the center of a longstanding national debate.
The proposal, introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, would establish a statewide policy for when body camera footage and other audio and video recordings should be released at a time when there is a push across the country for body camera recordings to be released more quickly after fatal police shootings, KPCC reports.
Assembly Bill 748 would amend California’s public records statute to limit the discretion police departments have for withholding police videos and require them to release videos in cases where officers have used force or where there is believed to be a violation of law or public policy.
Of course, the measure is opposed by more than a dozen law enforcement agencies, and according to KPCC, the contention is that it should be up to local police departments when, if ever, body camera footage should be released.
Measures similar to this one have been proposed by state lawmakers in the last few years, but none have passed, and as KPCC notes, some departments, including the Los Angeles Police Department, consider body camera footage to be investigative records and therefore exempt from the state’s open records laws.
While Ting believes his bill will “strike a fair balance,” Craig Lally, the president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents city police officers, believes it will kill “the impartiality of the investigation process.”
The state Senate’s Public Safety Committee has a hearing scheduled on Tuesday to address AB 748.
Of course the police union is against it. Of course law enforcement agencies are against it. Of course no one wants this to be a thing, because that means greater accountability for those who have been trusted for so long to do the right thing, yet have done the wrong under questionable circumstances in so many recent incidents.
Let’s get this law on the books in California and every other state in the nation.
Read more at KPCC.