Some American states are making it much harder for individuals to get their hands on videos from police body cameras.
Four U.S. states have recently written laws to hold videos as private secrets of the state and except them from public records laws. That is, unlike other public records that any private citizen can view, in these states, they can only do so under special circumstances.
In North Carolina, citizens can only view body camera footage if their voice or image was recorded in said footage.
Kansas views body camera footage as part of an ongoing investigation, and will only release it to the public after the investigation is over, which might be never if the investigation never officially started.
Like North Carolina, Louisiana exempts body camera video from public records laws. Public record laws that are on the books in almost every state.
South Carolina will only allow citizens to view body camera footage if they were the subject of the recordings or a defendant in a criminal case.
Other states are currently in the process of making it much more difficult for individual citizens to watch police body camera recordings. Both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania legislators are in the process of passing bills that mirror the effects of the bills already in action in Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
On one hand it makes sense to keep this footage unavailable to companies like TMZ who would use it in creating stories for their own benefit. But on the other it makes you wonder: Why have body cameras in the first place? It kind of defeats the purpose of recording the movements of police officers, both their positive and negative actions, if no one can view the footage afterwards.
h/t The Verge