Missouri lawmakers push for body camera restrictions - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Missouri lawmakers push for body camera restrictions

(Source: Nichole Cartmell/KFVS) (Source: Nichole Cartmell/KFVS)

As more and more law enforcement agencies equip their officers with body cameras, some are pushing back.

Two Missouri lawmakers want to stop the public from accessing that video.

Rep. Galen Higdon and Sen. Doug Libla filed bills that would exempt footage from police body cameras and dashboard cameras from the state's open records law.

Right now, any one can request access to police videos.

Perryville Police Chief Direk Hunt said the department will release the video unless it's being used as evidence in a trial or if it's a part of an ongoing investigation.

Poplar Bluff Police captain Don Trout says their department also releases video based on protocol in their body camera policy.

Trout said there are a lot uses for the video, however, it is not intended for anyone's viewing pleasure.

"We don't want to see it be used to embarrass people and stuff like that," Trout said. "It's for evidential purposes, I mean for court presentations. We can use some of it for training. You know if an officer sees he's done something not quite right, when he reviews it a mistake as far as safety risk or something and that can be used throughout the agency for training purposes."

Even Attorney General Chris Koster told lawmakers in a letter that he believes in some cases there should be restrictions on who can see the videos.

A lieutenant with the Dexter Police Department also notes that in some cases the video might show sensitive material and for privacy reasons, the people in those videos wouldn't want to be identified.

Trout said there's still a lot of gray area when it comes to the body cameras.

"Of all of our policies that we've put out in the past four years, this has been the read the most by everybody, over and over and over," Trout said. "It's been modified several times since it's been written and I am sure it'll be modified some more."

Missouri lawmakers will also discuss on Wednesday if law enforcement officers should be required to wear the body cameras.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal has proposed revising Senate Bill 21 to make it so officers have to wear video cameras on their uniforms while on duty.

If that measure were to pass, it would mean every department would likely have to foot the bill.

Trout said not every community can afford them.

"They're not cheap, not only the cameras but the storage that we use," Trout said. "I don't see how several agencies could could afford them."

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