Assembly approves bill setting new standards for police body cam footage

QUORUM CALL

Victims could prevent the release of footage from the body cameras some police officers wear under legislation the Assembly approved on a voice vote Thursday.

The legislation also would set a series of statewide standards for how the footage is handled, and several Dems said they support that concept.

But they argued they bill put forward today is a misguided effort.

It would prohibit the release of footage from the body cams police wear unless the video includes injuries, deaths, arrests or searches. But if the footage was shot somewhere that a person had a reasonable expectation of privacy, police would have to get permission from victims and witnesses before it could be released.

Landlords also would be able to block release of footage on properties they owned, an provisions Dems held up as a problem.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, said body cameras are supposed to help create trust between police and the communities they serve. Zamarripa, who is Latina, said blocking the release of the footage would undercut the very reason for the cameras, to provide evidence of interactions between police officers and others.

“This bill does nothing but further the divide between the police and the communities they are meant to protect,” Zamarripa said.

But Rep. Jess Kremer, R-Kewaskum, countered there should be limits on when the footage is released such as from a police call involving a sexual assault victim who was attacked and left for dead, naked in an alley.

That footage should be available for the trial, he added.

“But there is no reason this video should make it to the media or a YouTube channel,” he said.

Kremer argued the bill would lead to more departments having their officers wear body cams because the legislation’s provisions establishing statewide standards for how the footage is used.

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