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Police body camera bill approved by Legislature

by caprecord

The House on Tuesday passed a police body camera bill that aims to limit some requests for video footage for privacy reasons while also setting up the process to make some footage available to the public.

Watch TVW video of House floor debate here.

House Bill 2362 passed out of the House on a vote of 57-39. The bill sets parameters under the Public Records Act for people who request body camera video and sound recordings.

The Senate passed the bill on a 37-9 vote last week after making changes to the original bill, including adding language that prohibits the release of footage that shows a patient at a medical center. The Senate also required law enforcement agencies to keep footage for 60 days, after which they can destroy the video.

Rep. Terry Nealey, R- Dayton, admitted the bill is controversial, but urged members to support it.

“There are a lot of diverse groups on both sides that are opposed or in favor of it,” he said. “I don’t think we will ever have complete agreement from all agencies and there’s a lot of them that have weighed in this matter.”

He said there needs to be guidelines around body cameras, and the bill is a start.

“If we pass this law, than at least we are placing some parameters and some protection of privacy on body cameras,” he said. “That’s very important.”

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, voted no on the bill, saying there is not enough privacy protections for people in the bill.

“When in doubt, we have to draw a line that protects constitutional rights. We have to draw a line that protects privacy,” he said. “We have to draw a line that prevents warrantless searches and seizures. We have to draw a line that says we understand this technology is out there, but it can’t be used everywhere all the time for any reason.”

The bill also creates a task force to review and report on the use of body cameras by law enforcement and corrections agencies. It now goes the governor for his signature.