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Lawmakers propose standards for police use of body cameras

Bipartisan legislation outlines body camera policies based on national best practices
December 7, 2015
Democratic Newsroom

State Reps. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus) and Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) recently introduced new legislation to create consistent standards which must be included in a law enforcement agency’s body camera policy.

“Since no two agencies or departments are alike, this framework for the use of body cameras focuses not just on transparency, but on flexibility for agencies throughout the state,” said Boyce. “This starting point for police body camera use will open an important dialogue here in the state of Ohio, and it is a first step in the right direction to regain the public’s trust into our law enforcement officials once again.”

The bill will require police departments that choose to outfit their officers with body cameras to adopt a body camera policy and make this policy available to the public. The policy will require law enforcement agencies to specify which officers are required to wear the body cameras and who within the agency has access to the footage.

“I believe it is important for our law enforcement to have the facts and the proper guidance so that body cameras can serve as an important tool,” said Grossman.

The two lawmakers hosted a series of IP meetings over the course of several months. The proposed recommendation of standards which must be included in a law enforcement agency’s body camera policy is a product of those IP meetings and the Police Executive Research Forum report (P.E.R.F.).*

“Statewide standards are the first step toward requiring body cameras for all police officers in Ohio.” said State Rep. and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati). “The public is calling for transparency. This bill will set a framework that enables law enforcement agencies throughout our state to use body cameras in way that is transparent and accountable to the public. When there is video footage, the truth will come out.”

Bill cosponsor Rep. Reece recently participated in a workshop on police worn body cameras with the President of African American Law Enforcement (NOBEL) and African American Legislators from across the country the National Caucus of State Legislators Conference in Los Angeles, California.

Based on research displaying success nationally, the standards in this legislation will help to increase the integrity and accountability of our criminal justice system. This bill is the first in a series of legislation to come that will address police body camera funding and the release of public records.