Alabama Senator Proposes Legislation to Make Bodycam and Dashboard Footage Public Record


ALABAMA (WHNT) — It is the goal of an Alabama senator to make body camera and dash cam footage public by changing the state’s current rules about them.

Senator Merika Coleman, who is from District 19, has written a bill that would change the rules about how body camera footage can be shared. Current open record rules in Alabama say that audio or video recordings made by body cameras while police officers are doing their jobs are not public documents.

Newspaper News 19 was given a copy of the bill Coleman wanted to sign.

The draft of the new bill says, “This bill would make a recording made by a body-worn camera or dashboard camera used by law enforcement a public record. This means that anyone could look at the recording.”

After a state supreme court decision in 2021, getting access to bodycam videos went from being a legal gray area to being pretty much impossible.

Last year, the lawmakers made a small exception that let some families get in. Video footage can only be shown to the person or their personal representative whose voice or picture is being recorded.

The body in charge of holding the person, on the other hand, can choose not to show it if it would get in the way of an investigation. So far, ALEA has used that exception to keep Stephen Perkins’ family from seeing the body camera video.

If this bill is introduced and passes, the police department that has the video would have to give it to the person who asks for it within 30 days. The office would only give out parts that were needed for a records request. Under this proposed law, they could refuse to give out information if doing so would hurt an investigation or put a witness in danger.

It would also explain how to file an appeal if the office didn’t give the footage. You can go to circuit court to challenge a denial.

Even though Sen. Coleman’s bill hasn’t been filed yet, News 19 will keep an eye on it.

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