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State Senate approves body cam bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The debate in the General Assembly over the handling of video from police body cameras is no longer a source of controversy.

The state Senate gave overwhelming approval Tuesday to a bill that is supported by both police and the media.

The goal is greater use of body cameras.

It’s a debate that started out with a bill requiring members of the media and the public to prove why a body camera video should be released by a police agency.

The state Senate voted 49 to one for a new version of the bill that requires the police to demonstrate why video should be kept private, if that’s their desire.

It’s meant to stake out middle ground between states where most videos become public and those where almost none do.

“This does not dictate whether a police agency has video cameras or not; that’s going to be a local decision,” Sen. Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) explained. “Nor does it dictate when those should be turned on; that’s going to be a local decision as well.”

Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) said he believes the bill will lead to a law that will be an example used by other states.

“I believe that this bill is gonna lead to less lawsuits,” Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said. “I believe that if you are gonna be apprehended by a police officer and you know they have a body camera, you’re gonna act differently.”

The bill includes requirements on how long a police agency must store video and limits on the fees they can charge to people who request a copy.

It is likely headed to a conference committee where only minor changes are anticipated before it heads to the governor’s desk.