As the 2020 legislative session draws to a close, new laws are being signed by Gov. Northam. Among them is HB 246, which pertains to police body cameras. While body cameras are becoming more common throughout the country, there is a lot of cost and uncertainty that can stand in the way of their adoption. The equipment itself is not necessarily very expensive, but the training can be time consuming, and the cost of storage can be very high.
Police departments also have to consider concerns about how their policies are affected by FOIA, FERPA and HIPAA laws, as well as hiring staff to properly process, maintain, and store all of the video.
Hopefully, new legislation will clarify some of these issues, which will lower the risk that department’s face and encourage adoption of body camera policies.
From the Governor’s website:
Policies for Police Body Cameras
Governor Northam signed House Bill 246, sponsored by Delegate Mark Levine that will establish transparent policies for how police departments should use body-worn cameras and maintain and store records from those cameras.
“Body-worn cameras provide important evidence and context, especially when the facts of an interaction between an officer and a member of the public are in dispute,” said Governor Northam. “Model policies will help ensure public input across the Commonwealth and will increase needed transparency in our criminal justice process.”
“Police-worn body cameras protect both law enforcement and the citizens they interact with,” said Delegate Levine. “With transparent policies for the use of body cameras, we will help increase accountability and build stronger relationships between law enforcement and the citizens they serve in communities across Virginia.”governor.virginia.gov