Revived Body Cameras Bill Passes First House Panel

Nov 4, 2015

Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) speaking before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Wednesday.
Credit Florida Channel

A bill requiring law enforcement agencies that use body cameras to have guidelines and procedures in place passed its first House committee Wednesday.

Rep. Shevrin Jones (R-West Park) is the bill’s House sponsor.

“The bill requires law enforcement agencies to provide policies and procedures as well as training to all personnel who use, maintain, and store all body camera recording data,” said Jones, speaking before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Wednesday.

Jones says there are a number of factors law enforcement agencies should include when setting policies and procedures.

“General guidelines for the proper use, maintenance, and storage of body cameras, any limitations in which law enforcement officers are permitted to wear the body cameras, general guidelines for the proper storage, retention, and release of audio and video data recorded by the body cameras,” he added. “The bill requires law enforcement agencies to retain the body camera recording data in compliance with statute 119, and to perform periodic reviews of agency practices to ensure compliance with the agency’s policies and procedures.”

Jones brought a similar bill last session, but it died amid the budget impasse between the House and Senate. Another measure by Jones did pass and recently became law. It provides a public records exemption for the body camera recordings to address privacy concerns.

Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) initially raised concerns, but says she’s now on board and is even one of the sponsors of this year’s bill.

“I think the protections that are here and the need for the policies and procedures, the need for the whole examination of this is extremely important to protect privacy of individuals,” she said. “Our constitution provides us that right to personal privacy and this is a very good bill that allows for that, but also for the appropriate use of body cams, which I think are a very good law enforcement tool.”

Jones’ measure—originally a body camera mandate—now has the backing of multiple law enforcement agencies. Meanwhile, its Senate companion has not yet had a hearing.

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