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Committee discusses state policy on police body camera footage

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 29, 2015) – Indiana lawmakers will discuss restrictions on the release of police body camera footage Tuesday.

Marion County Public Safety Director David Wantz will testify about body camera use as a study committee weighs officer privacy and the public’s right to access body camera video. More than 60 Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officers started wearing body cameras during a trial program.

The Department of Public Safety wants to see all officers equipped with them, but money is an issue. There are also the questions of whether officers should turn the body cameras on or off, and whether extra public records exemptions are needed since the camera will include images from inside private homes, of minors and other sensitive situations.

"We ought to have clear ways for them to know when they should and when they shouldn't, and to have an access log so we can tell when that happens," Wantz said. "We've got to protect the rights and privacy of everybody while still discharging our duty as the guardians of society."

IMPD saw the first test of its own policy earlier this year when it released portions of a police action shooting involving officers who shot and killed Mack Long. During a committee hearing in August, Long’s widow was outspoken about the need for body cameras and called for release of the full video. IMPD showed portions of the encounter during a news conference over the summer.

State lawmakers hope to draft a uniform, statewide policy regarding police body camera footage and who can view it.