Legislation that would exempt some body camera footage from the Tennessee Public Records Act is headed to the governor’s desk for signature.
The House and the Senate passed legislation that would make confidential footage shot inside health care facilities, schools, and inside homes in some instances. Here is what the bill lists as exempt:
(1) Video taken by a law enforcement body camera that depicts the following shall be treated as confidential and not subject to public inspection:
(A) Minors, when taken within a school that serves any grades from kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12);
(B) The interior of a facility licensed under title 33 or title 68; or
(C) The interior of a private residence that is not being investigated as a crime scene.
The bill also has a “sunset clause,” which means the law would expire on July 1, 2022. The suggestion for a sunset came from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge.
Many local law enforcement entities have purchased or plan to purchase body cameras. Questions have arisen, however, over the deployment of the cameras, as well as privacy.
TCOG has advocated that all body camera footage that deals with accountability of law enforcement, such as questions over use of force or misconduct, should not be allowed to be kept secret from the public. (Read comments submitted by TCOG as part of a legislative body camera study.)
Knoxville News-Sentinel editorial: Bill strikes balance on body cameras
The Tennessean: Body camera bill headed to Gov. Bill Haslam