The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a new set of police body camera recommendations in the form of a model bill. The potential legislation, published Thursday, came two days after U.S. senators requested a draft of this kind at a Senate hearing to help guide state and local governments.
The bill includes five major provisions: uniform parameters that do not give officers discretion on when the cameras will be turned on; individuals inside a home who are not suspects can ask that the cameras to be turned off; video should normally be deleted after six months, while videos capturing a use of force incident must be retained for three years.
The ACLU also recommends officers be prohibited from watching the footage before they file a report about an incident and that only videos depicting controversial incidents be subject to public disclosure. The ACLU said its bill is an attempt to balance privacy and police accountability, a stance that stands in contrast to companies like Taser, which market body cameras as a way for departments to curb fraud lawsuits.
“This model bill is far more than a wish list -- it is a comprehensive plug-and-play policy for those seeking to implement a sound police body camera program,” Chad Marlow, ACLU advocacy and policy counsel wrote in a blog post announcing the model bill Thursday. “To date, we know of no state government or local police department body camera policy that checks all the right boxes.”
This comes two days after Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, said in a Senate hearing that questions about data retention still have not been answered. It was in North Charleston, a town in Scott's home state, where a white police officer was recently caught on cell phone video fatally shooting an unarmed black man in the back.
The ACLU was one of 34 civil rights organizations to sign an open letter last week asking that facial recognition technology not be used when scanning footage captured from body cameras.