Police body camera legislation moves forward 

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An overhauled version of a bill allowing police to limit public access to police dash and body camera video could undergo more changes.

The bill’s author, Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, said the bill likely would be assigned to a conference committee after the Senate voted 49-1 Tuesday.

An earlier version of House Bill 1019 would have allowed law enforcement to withhold video and possibly force the media or the public to get a court order to see it. Last week, a Senate committee changed that to shift the burden of proof for keeping the video confidential to the police as long as the video is not involved in an ongoing investigation or could interfere with a suspect’s ability to receive a fair trial.

The amended bill also creates an exception to allow anyone to see or copy a video if it shows excess force or a civil rights violation. While the video can be used in a court as evidence, releasing the video would not be an admission of guilt.

“This legislation was created to deal with the growing presence of body cameras in Indiana. As a former sheriff, I understand the need for these guidelines and the impact they could have on our local communities,” Mahan said in a statement. “Balancing transparency for the public while maintaining privacy rights for the individual is our responsibility when implementing this technology.”

Only Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, voted against the overhauled version in the Senate Tuesday. He tweeted he opposed the bill because of law enforcement’s concern with the legislation.

During a Senate committee hearing, the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police explained some lingering concerns about possible due process issues, which they preferred to have determined by a judge.

The bill will now return to the House, which approved the earlier version of the legislation.

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