‘Police Body Camera’ Legislation Passes Wyoming Senate

1-19-2017

With the goal of providing clarity to law enforcement and the general public, legislation passed the Wyoming Senate today to provide parameters and guidance on the handling of police body camera footage.

“Ensuring Wyoming’s peace officers have the resources they need to keep us safe while protecting both privacy rights and the public interest has always been the goal of this legislation,” said Senator Leland Christensen, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I applaud the Task Force on Digital Information Privacy as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee for their hard work and dedication to addressing this important matter. “

Senate File 32, Peace Officer Recordings, passed 3rd reading in the Wyoming Senate today. Current Wyoming law does not address how police body camera video should be handled. Many local law enforcement officers said they were reluctant to use body cameras, not knowing the rules surrounding usage of the footage.

The bill passed today will permit individuals who are the subject of a recording to view the footage in response to a complaint against law enforcement or if it involves an incident of deadly force or serious bodily injury, assuming the custodian of the recording determines it is in the interest of public safety and is not contrary to public interest. Additionally, recordings would be released to law enforcement or public agencies as required to conduct business or pursuant to a court order. The bill, sponsored by the Senate Judiciary Committee, will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The legislation represents many months of hearings, meetings, testimony and input from key stakeholder groups including law enforcement and the media. The Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, Wyoming Press Association and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) applauded passage of Senate File 32 today.

“This is a great example of a compromise working. Everybody had different concerns. Ours had to do with public transparency. All sides recognized those concerns, so we had some great constructive discussions and figured out ways to address them,” said Jim Angell with the Wyoming Press Association.

“I believe our collaborative solution will be workable for law enforcement as we look to deploy body-worn cameras in Wyoming,” said Byron Oedekoven with the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. “Thank you to the leadership in the Senate and all the stakeholders who worked on this legislation.”

“Police-worn body cameras hold the potential to enhance officer safety and to increase public accountability for law enforcement. But they also present significant privacy concerns. We are satisfied with the compromise reached on Senate File 32, and we look forward to working with law enforcement agencies to enact policies which will encourage agencies to adopt the use of body cameras and which can deepen communication and trust between citizens and the agencies and officers working to protect them,” said Sabrina King with the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming.

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