SB 248, passed 36-2, creates overly broad public records exemptions that undermine accountability function of police body cameras
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 22, 2015
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Senate today voted 36-2 in favor of a bill, SB 248, which would create public record exemptions that could keep footage shot by police body camera footage from being released to the public.
Responding to the vote, ACLU of Florida Public Policy Director Michelle Richardson stated:
“The Florida Senate has taken a huge step backwards for police accountability. Police body cameras can be a win-win for both police and the communities they serve, but only when they strike a delicate balance that protects privacy while also providing a record of police activity. The bill the Senate passed today fails to strike that balance.
“The Senate ignored the voices of civil rights groups, First Amendment advocates, and open government watchdogs by passing a bill that could allow law enforcement agencies to turn what should be a police accountability tool into a propaganda device – giving agencies license to release footage that shows officers following the law and hide behind public records exemptions when their officers are engaged in wrongdoing.
“There are many ways to protect privacy without blanket public records exemptions that would hide police body camera footage from the public, and we urged senators to incorporate those into the bill. Unfortunately, the bill that passed the Senate today fell well short of striking the needed balance.
“We hope that the members of the House will look more critically at the concerns and practical solutions raised in a letter signed by twenty Florida civil rights groups and use the amendment process to craft a bill that won’t leave Floridians in the dark about what the people charged with protecting them are doing.”
A copy of the letter signed by 20 civil rights groups urging senators to reject the bill is available here: https://aclufl.org/resources/updated-coalition-letter-opposing-senate-police-body-cameras-bill/
The ACLU’s policy report making recommendations on implementation for police body cameras, “Police Body-Mounted Cameras: With Right Policies in Place, A Win for All,” is available here: https://www.aclu.org/police-body-mounted-cameras-right-policies-place-win-all