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Access Concerns Hold Up Police Body Cam Bill

Gretchen Frazee
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Legislation aimed at making it a little easier for the public to access police body camera footage stalled in the House after Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) expressed concerns about the bill.  But, the measure’s author is confident about its chances to advance.

Current law doesn’t mention police body camera footage, so it’s mostly classified as what’s called “investigatory record,” meaning the police don’t ever have to release it. 

Proposed legislation would give the public – and news organizations – a better chance at getting the footage.  But if police refuse, it would be up to the people requesting the footage to prove to a judge they should get it – not to law enforcement to prove why they shouldn’t give it up. 

Bosma held the bill off the House floor calendar for more than a week and says he wanted time to investigate concerns he’d heard about that burden-of-proof provision.

“It’s an important bill,” Bosma says. “It’s a hot topic and we just want to be sure we do it right.”

Bill author Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City), a former county sheriff, says he doesn’t want to overburden cash-strapped local communities and law enforcement agencies:

“If they have to run to a court of law every time that they have something that they feel, at the time, needs to be kept under wraps, I can’t imagine the immense burden that that would put upon them in spending the tax dollars,” Mahan says.

The bill is available for amendments on Monday’s House calendar.  

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.