Lawmakers take another step toward making body camera footage public record

Ohio Statehouse News

In a unanimous vote on the floor of the Ohio House of Representatives, lawmakers passed Representatives Niraj Antani and Hearcel Craig’s House Bill 425.

“For the first time we are saying that body camera videos and dashboard camera videos are a public record,” said Antani.

“This is a victory for the citizens of Columbus and this state,” said Craig.

The bill creates standards for what is and is not public record when it comes to police body camera and dashboard camera footage.

“What this does is it says when a body camera is a public record and when it is not,” said Antani. “It does not require body cameras; it does not ban body cameras; it does not say a police department has to turn it on or turn it off whenever; it leaves all of that up to local jurisdiction.”

That is something that the City of Columbus and its police department have been waiting for, and they’re going to have to wait a little while longer.

“It’s important to them; it’s important to other officers around the state of Ohio; it’s important to our citizens,” said Craig.

The bill’s sponsors say it walks a fine line of balancing privacy concerns with the need for transparency.

“This whole question of accountability and transparency is key and absolutely key to the movement of this bill.”

That movement will happen now that it’s headed to the Senate where it will undergo more committee hearings.

The bill makes all body camera and dashboard camera a public record with 17 exceptions.

Some of the more frequent exceptions will be if the video is recorded in a private home or business or if it shows the victim of a sex crime; and even some of the exceptions have exceptions that would allow for the video to be a public record after all.

Antani says he doesn’t care whether the Senate passes his bill or turns it into an amendment on another piece of legislation as long as Governor Kasich signs the language into law.

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