Missouri lawmakers want to ban public from viewing video from police body cams

In the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and the protests that filled Missouri afterward, some Missouri lawmakers proposed a bill that would require police departments to buy and use body cameras. Now, Sen. Doug Libla (R) is pushing back against the bill, trying to pass legislation that would ban the camera footage from public viewing, reports Think Progress.

Supporters of the new legislation claim that the bill will protect the privacy of Missouri officers. “Individuals may make mistakes and those mistakes never come off the Internet,” said Sheldon Lineback, executive director for Missouri Police Chiefs Association.

But other disagree, claiming that the legislation is just a way around Missouri’s Sunshine (open record) law. “By not making [the videos] public record, it seems useless to have [body cameras] when the purpose is to create a system to go back and see what’s going on,” said a St. Louis resident member of the Don’t Shoot Coalition.

“Refusing to release records can only lead to mistrust in law enforcement and a belief that something’s being hidden,” said Doug Crews, the executive director of the Missouri Press Association.

The legislation would make all video footage exempt from open record laws and would even prevent the state from requiring the purchase and use of cameras, essentially reversing the previously proposed legislation.