SB 248, passed today on 2nd reading, includes overly-broad public record exemptions that undermine accountability function of police body cameras; 20 civil rights group sent letter opposing bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 14, 2015
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, during debate on second reading of SB 248, a bill that creates public record exemptions that could keep footage shot by police body cameras from ever seeing the light of day, Florida Senator Chris Smith, the bill’s sponsor, read selectively from an ACLU policy paper to argue that his bill is consistent with ACLU policy recommendations on police body cameras despite multiple warnings from the organization that the bill was flawed.
Responding to the floor debate, ACLU of Florida Public Policy Director Michelle Richardson stated:
“It is extremely disappointing that Senator Smith would misrepresent the ACLU’s position on police body cameras on the Senate floor. The ACLU’s consistent position has always been that police body cameras must be implemented in a way that balances privacy with police accountability, and Senator Smith’s bill simply fails to reach that balance.
“We believe that getting consent of the subjects in the footage before disclosure is the best choice, but when there is an allegation of misconduct, there are other ways to balance the privacy and accountability issues. In the ACLU policy paper which Senator Smith selectively read from on the Senate floor, we also recommend redacting sensitive images when feasible as well as the disclosure of unredacted footage in situations when the footage is especially likely to document police misconduct. Senator Smith’s bill allows for neither of these things.
“These concerns were articulated to Senator Smith several times throughout the session, and not just by the ACLU. Twenty different civil rights groups sent a letter to the Senate yesterday urging members to reject this bill because of the overly-broad public record exemptions. The small changes made in floor amendments today fail to address the fundamental concerns raised by these groups.”
SB 248 was passed on second reading. The final Senate vote on the bill is expected later this week.
The ACLU’s full policy report, “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
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/