State Representative Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) was joined by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and State Representative Hearcel Craig today to announce legislation pertaining to police-worn body cameras. The bill stipulates that, in general, the body camera videos are public record, with several exceptions determined necessary for privacy.

“It is the Wild West right now with regards to whether a police worn body camera is a public record: some believe it is, some believe it is not,” said Rep. Antani. “This bill will protect privacy rights, while providing transparency and accountability of all involved in a police encounter. A police body camera will be able to see where you keep your gun, your jewelry, and where you kids sleep. It is essential for us to take steps to protect the privacy rights of our citizens as this new technology is deployed.”

To strike that balance between transparency and privacy, the bill establishes four instances in which a police body camera video cannot be released as a public record; if it is a confidential investigatory record, a video within a private home, a video within a private business, or a video of a sex crime victim.

“Body-worn cameras are an important tool for the safety of residents and police officers. By the end of 2018, Columbus Division of Police will have 1,300 officers outfitted with cameras and an abundance of footage from police runs. We must manage the videos for transparency, while also protecting privacy,” said Mayor Andrew Ginther, of the City of Columbus. “I am pleased with the legislation put forth by Representative Niraj Antani and Representative Hearcel Craig and the commitment of the state legislature to cross party lines to get this right.”

“If you experience abuse, the last thing you should have to consider is whether video footage of that trauma is available to the general public,” said Shannon Isom, President and CEO, YWCA Dayton. “Likewise, victims of intimate-partner violence should never be afraid to call law enforcement because they fear what body cameras will capture. This bill aligns with YWCA Dayton’s commitment to support survivors of gender-based violence by ensuring that any recording with information that could identify victims of such violence is not made public while simultaneously providing sensitivity to communities of color in providing public provision for police encounters. This bill represents a collaborative effort: In drafting this bill, Representative Antani sought input and subject matter expertise from a wide range of community leaders and organizations, including YWCA Datyon and the YWCA Dayton Advocacy Committee. YWCA is On a Mission to promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all, and we believe this bill protects personal privacy while also ensuring police transparency and accountability.”

“Taxpayers and our police officers should feel safe and secure when an incident occurs or an emergency arises, and that shouldn’t stop when the cameras stop,” said Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus). “That is why I am committed to working in a bipartisan way to ensure the continued safety and privacy of citizens and officers long after the cameras stop recording. I thank the City of Columbus for showing leadership on this and so many other issues, and I look forward to strengthening the law for our residents and those who protect and serve them.”

Recently, the use of police body cameras has been implemented more frequently throughout the law enforcement community. This is largely to protect the integrity of police officers, in addition to the citizens they work to protect.

The bill will be formally introduced into the House tomorrow during its non-voting session. A copy of the bill is attached as an addendum.

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