Watered Down Body Cameras Bill Passes First Panel, Still Faces Privacy Concerns

Feb 11, 2015

Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) talking to a House panel Wednesday about his body cameras bill.
Credit Florida Channel

Florida lawmakers agreed to water down a bill Wednesday that would have required law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. Rep. Shevrin Jones’ (D-West Park) bill now allows for local law enforcement discretion.

“Those agencies who currently have body cameras…all we’re asking them to do is to put policies and procedures into place,” said Jones. “Along with that, the bill also requires those law enforcement agencies to train their personnel for the use of how to maintain, how to store, and release the body cameras’ recording data.”

While the bill passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee unanimously, some lawmakers expressed privacy concerns. And, the Florida Police Benevolent Association’s Gary Bradford shared similar worries.

“Our concern is if the camera is on, and it’s required to be on through the entire shift, then it will capture video and audio when you have roll calls or when you’re walking down the hallway or just as you’re go through your day. You’re on a lunch break, you’re in the privacy of your own car with your partner, you’re having a conversation about having a fight with your wife in the morning, or something along those lines, and we just think those things are private, and they shouldn’t be part of the discussion,” said Bradford.

So, what does Bradford suggest?

“…working with the Representative [Jones], we want to insert some language concerning the privacy issues if it’s law enforcement related activity, of course, those cameras should be on and recording and those types of things,” he added

And, Bradford says when those changes are made at the bill’s next committee stop, the FPBA does expect to give its full support to the bill.

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