A Missouri legislator has proposed a bill that would outlaw the release of any police footage recorded via body or dashboard cameras, reports The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
State Sen. Doug Libla (R) introduced the bill, which would exempt video footage and audio recordings from the state’s open records law and would only be made available in a court of law. The bill also bars the state from mandating that all officers wear body cams.
Though the bill currently does not have any co-sponsors, it has attracted bipartisan support from lawmakers who feel that the current law is too lenient.
“Missouri’s Sunshine Law provides news media and entertainment producers nearly unfettered access to videos from body-worn cameras,” wrote Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D) in a letter to Missouri Senator Tom Dempsey (R). “Adoption of body-worn cameras must not lead to a new era of voyeurism and entertainment television at the expense of Missourians’ privacy.”
However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Missouri Press Association (MPA) are pushing back.
“We should not be in a state where secret police records are the norm,” said MPA Executive Director Doug Crews to the Post-Dispatch. “Refusing to release records can only lead to mistrust.”
A hearing was held last Wednesday. If the bill is signed into law, it could go into effect as early as August.