Public hearing scheduled for police body camera bill

A public hearing on a bill that would establish statewide rules for how police use body cameras and handle requests for access to videos is scheduled for next Tuesday.

The Senate Committee On Judiciary & Public Safety will hold a heading on the bill, SB50, at a meeting that starts at 10 a.m. at the Wisconsin State Capitol, Room 411S.

A Legislative Study Committee that drafted the bill voted 9-1 in support of the draft legislation. WISN-TV News Director Ben Hart and attorney James Friedman represented broadcasters and the media on the committee. Both voted in favor of the bill. The study committee included lawmakers who supported two different body camera bills during the last session. Neither were signed into law.

The committee-approved bill can be read here.

The bill, in part, maintains the Wisconsin’s current standard of public records being assumed accessible to the public, unless a records custodian rules against openness using the balancing test. The bill uses the balancing test to determine if video should be released, and asks records custodians to take into consideration the expectation privacy for anyone who appears in the video and the treatment of victims and minors. The bill also directs records custodians to use redaction where necessary to allow for a video to be released.

The bill also sets standards for record retention and mandates training for police departments that adopt the use of police body cameras.

Legislation on body cameras passed in the Assembly but was not brought up for a vote in the Senate before the end of the last session. The study committee included lawmakers who supported two different body camera bills in the last session.