Bill outlines use of police body-worn cameras in Nebraska

With disjointed policies covering the use of body cameras by uniformed law enforcement officers in Nebraska, Omaha Sen. Heath Mello introduced a bill Friday that would outline requirements for their use.

The recordings would not be a matter of public record, much like police dashboard camera recordings are not, Mello said.

Body-worn cameras record both audio and video of interactions between an officer and a member of the public. The bill doesn't cover devices used by undercover officers.

Mello said the bill (LB1000) is based on a compromise between ACLU of Nebraska and law enforcement agencies. It does not require body cameras, but offers a minimum framework to follow for those that have them, he said.

The bill would require any agency that uses the cameras to adopt a written policy. Any agency that begins use of cameras in 2017 would have to have a policy within three months.

Policies would include these requirements:

* The agency would provide training to officers who use the cameras and those who come into contact with the video or audio data obtained from them.

* An officer would notify a supervisor of any problems with the camera.

* A body-worn camera would be worn openly in a prominent place on the body, uniform or clothing in a way that maximizes its ability to capture video footage and audio of the officer’s activities.

* As soon as possible, the officer would notify the subject that he or she is being recorded.

The camera would be activated only for law enforcement purposes and the policy would provide instances in which an officer should not record or may discontinue a recording in progress, considering the need for privacy in certain situations and locations.

It would also cover provisions for storage and access of recordings, which would be retained for a minimum of six months from the date of recording, except when part of a criminal, civil or disciplinary proceeding.

by: Joane Young

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