2016 legislative session

Police “Body Camera” Data
Body camera data is video and audio content captured by body-worn video camera/recorder devices. These devices are increasingly used by law enforcement agencies to record the activities of officers in the field.

Data classification prior to session
Under the Data Practices Act, body camera data was presumed to be public, unless a specific privacy protection applied. Such protections extended to much victim data, juvenile witness data, mandated reporter data, and more. Undercover officer video could be withheld as “not public” data, and body camera video could likewise be withheld if it was part of an active criminal investigation. After the completion of an investigation, body camera videos became public, unless one of the other privacy protections applied to specific elements in those videos.

MNCOGI position
MNCOGI supported HF 3468, which classified body camera data that documented arrests and other core police functions as “public” data when those events occured in public places, and “private” data when those events occurred in private places, except when police activity resulted in substantial bodily harm. The bill also required the consent of citizens before police could record with body cameras in private homes, unless police had a warrant, or exigent circumstances were present.

Procedural history
SF 498 was re-introduced. It classified data that documented policy use of a dangerous weapon or police action that caused substantial bodily harm in public places as “public” data, while classifying all other data as “private. ” SF 498 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for action.

HF 3468 was introduced on the House floor, but no hearings were held in the House Civil Law committee.

On the Senate floor, SF 498 was amended to require public hearings prior to the adoption of body camera technology by local law enforcement agencies. Other amendments, including an amendment to require citizen consent prior to the use of body cameras in private homes, failed. SF 498 was approved by the Senate.

Action by the House Republican caucus forced a hearing on HF 430, an alternative body camera bill to HF 3468. The langauge of HF 430 originally classified all body camera data as “private” data. HF 430 was amended to classify police use of force that caused substantial bodily harm as “public” data, and passed through the Civil Law and Public Safety committees to the House floor. Several amendments were offered on the House floor to classify arrest data as “public” data or to provide for for citizen consent for recording in private homes, but the amendments were defeated, and the bill was approved by the House.

A conference committee was held to reconcile the langauge of the House and Senate versions of the body camera bill.

At the end of the legislative session, body camera data was classified as “private” data unless it documented either police activity that caused substantial bodily harm, or the discharge of a firearm by a law enforcement officer in the course of duty.

MNCOGI letter to Senate Judiciary Mar 2016