Police “Body Cam” Data

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 extend 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 would becomes public, unless one of the other privacy protections applied to specific elements in those videos.

MNCOGI position
Going into the session, MNCOGI sought to preserve the existing framework for police body camera data, with some adjustments. For instance, MNCOGI supported efforts to provide citizens with the ability to request that body cameras be turned off in non-emergency situations inside private residences. Also, MNCOGI sought to modify existing language in the Data Practices Act that exempted photographs that contained material “clearly offensive to common sensibilities” from release to likewise cover body camera video.

Procedural history
Identical versions of a body camera bill were introduced in both the House and Senate. The bills made virtually all body camera footage “not public” data, including body camera footage found in closed investigative files. Both bodies held extensive body camera hearings. The Senate Judiciary committee passed SF 498 after some modifications were made to permit video of certain use-of-force incidents to be released as “public” data.

House leadership ultimately decided to forego a body camera bill for the 2015 session, and SF 498 did not advance.

On the Senate floor, language from SF 498 was amended onto SF 86, the license plate reader bill, and passed the Senate. The body camera lanaguge was later removed in conference committee.

At the end of the legislative session, body camera data held the same status as it did at the beginning of the session.

AXON body camera tech specs
Senate research SF498
Amendment SCS0498CE2
MNCOGI analysis of police data
MNCOGI amendments SF498
MNCOGI amendments to SF4982
MNCOGI body cam brief Civil Law Feb 2015
Minn Stat 609.02