Indiana Moves Toward Law Giving Police Departments The Right To Withhold Video From Police Body Cameras

legislator_kevin_mahan_1028bwc_leadAn Indiana House government committee voted unanimously to allow police departments to withhold video from police body cameras. Unanimously. These videotapes have resulted in arguably the single most effective deterrent of police abuse in the history of this country. However, Rep. Kevin Mahan (left) (R., Hartford City) wants to leave the release of the evidence at the discretion of the very department that often faces the greatest criticism and costs over such evidence.

The move is reminiscent of our earlier discussion of the actions of Dallas Police Chief David Brown revealed a new policy that would require officers involved in a shooting to wait 72 hours before making a statement. The policy came after a scandal where a surveillance video showed one of Brown’s officers shooting a mentally ill suspect for no apparent reason. The video contradicted the officer’s testimony and undermined the charge against the victim. Brown’s solution was not greater disciplining and monitoring of officers but to impose a delay to allow officers to craft their statements.

The Indiana bill places the burden on those seeking video to prove that its release is in the public interest and doesn’t create risk of harm or prejudice in ongoing court cases. Citizens would have to go to court to get access to the videotapes.

According to his website, Mahan “served as a patrolman for the Hartford City Police Department, and then was appointed Blackford County Chief Deputy. After serving eight years as Chief Deputy, he was elected as the Blackford County Sheriff, which he served for three years.”

18 thoughts on “Indiana Moves Toward Law Giving Police Departments The Right To Withhold Video From Police Body Cameras

  1. “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”-Patrick Henry

  2. It is evidence. Any defendant would be entitled to obtain it or have charges dropped. Any civil litigant would be entitled to obtain it. Now where does the “public” stand? Say a cop shot a dog and no one steps forward as say, the owner of the dog, to demand release of the video. The newspaper or television network should have access to the video. It is a matter of public interest.
    All dogs should poop on the policemen’s yards all over town.

  3. Indiana prides itself and likes being called The “Hoosier State”. Elsewhere, a “hoosier” is a low life hillybilly slob who leaves junk all over the yard, can’t cut the grass, and smokes cigarettes.

  4. Posted on his facebook page
    https://www.facebook.com/voteformahan/

    I disagree with any prohibition on the Public’s right to view or or record anyone in Public performing their duties. Video protects the Police and the Public and there can only be one reason why you do not trust the Public. What your bill will do is strengthen the Public’s right to record on their own because you have prohibited the right of citizens to view what our Police have recorded. I have no way to get the Police video so im gonna record my own video in any interaction with Police.

  5. Well, ya see, 72 hours gives us enough time to work up a really convincing story and we don’t want any impediment to that through cameras, etc. Sometimes a spade is a spade is a spade is a stormtrooper.

  6. Denying the release of videos will only make the public more suspicious that the police are hiding something, even if they are not, but if they are not, it is hard to see why they wouldn’t release the video. With our current technology it should be possible to live stream video from police cameras on the internet or at least be able to download the video shortly after it was recorded. I can see reasons you would not want it live, but it could be on a 15 minute delay, kind of like the stock ticker. As someone who has a relative who is a police officer who wears a body camera, I can tell you he is glad to have it. If a question arises during a hearing or trial about the exact situation, they can pull it up and watch it, if necessary, over and over again. There is no I say, you say dispute, the real evidence is right there for all to see.

  7. “Mahan said body cameras are supposed to be used for law enforcement investigations and not for the media.”

    This sounds like something out of the police union. What is their reasoning? Are the cameras on all the time and they don’t want to release video of the cop going potty or on his cell talking to his wife? Or do the cops trigger the body cameras to record when they initiate a stop or contact?

    From the actual bill:

    “Law enforcement recordings. Restricts public records requests for law enforcement recordings by: (1) requiring only recordings depicting a law enforcement activity to be produced for inspection or copying; and (2) restricting the persons who must be allowed to inspect a law enforcement recording. Provides that a person may petition to obtain a court order to inspect or copy a law enforcement recording if the person demonstrates on the facts of the particular case that: (1) the public interest will be served by allowing access to the recording; (2) access to or dissemination of the recording does not create a significant risk of substantial harm to any person or to the general public; and (3) the release of the recording does not create a prejudicial effect on ongoing civil or criminal proceedings. Provides that if a law enforcement recording depicts an airport building or facility, the public agency that owns, occupies, leases, or maintains the airport on which the building or facility is located must approve the disclosure of the recording. Specifies information that must be obscured from a law enforcement recording before it is disclosed. Establishes the length of time that a law enforcement recording must be retained by a public agency. Exempts a law enforcement recording from a criminal statute prohibiting placement of a camera on the private property of another person. (The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the interim study committee on government.)”

    It is my understanding that police departments currently have the discretion to choose (or not) to release police video to the public. If a charge was made, I assume such video would be part of public record, but it would not if the case did not get charged.

    In order to foster public trust, I feel that video should be released to the public. I think that people not involved should have their faces, IDs, or address blurred where appropriate, as well as any video of buildings that would pose a threat to public safety. I do not know how much time that would take or if that part is feasible.

    Also, is the 72 hour delay in making a statement to his police department, or to the public? Obviously, the concern is that someone could get a fake story straight. Again, that sounds straight out of a police union.

    Whatever their reasoning, this bill will make the public feel like they are trying to hide something.

    http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2016/bills/house/1019#

  8. In light of this article, you should know Edison, NJ was one of that state’s first police force to engage military-style full-time digital encryption in their radio system. Citizens – and the media – can no longer observe PD actions on their scanners.

    WHY did Edison PD ‘need’ to hide their actions from the public taxpayers? All I know is a state Narc detective was quoted as saying their officers were “a breed apart”.

    I encourage Hoosiers that object to police secrecy to get out of that state. I’m glad I got out of Nazi Jerzey.

  9. @JT
    “An Indiana House government committee voted unanimously to allow police departments to withhold video from police body cameras. Unanimously. These videotapes have resulted in arguably the single most effective deterrent of police abuse in the history of this country.”

    ————————————————————

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

    “After the notorious video of Laquan McDonald getting shot by Chicago police officers 16 times went viral last November, investigators have been making their way through the other videos of the scene. In doing so, they’ve discovered that three of the dash cams pointed at McDonald that day did not record video, and others had no audio. Now a Chicago Police Department [CPD] audit reveals that many of the department’s dashboard cameras have been deliberately sabotaged. (Emphasis added)

    “Last month the CPD found that 80 percent of its 850 dash cams do not record audio, and 12 percent don’t record video either. The CPD has blamed the failures on ‘operator error or in some cases intentional destruction,’ and a close reading of that review by DNAinfo Chicago reveals the extent of the latter.

    “Officers frequently tampered with dash cams, stashing microphones in their glove boxes or pulling out batteries. Some dash cams were found with their antennae deliberately destroyed, and others had had their microphones removed altogether.

    “DNAinfo also describes a months-long repair time for dash cams that experienced ‘intentional destruction.’ For example: Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot and killed McDonald and has been charged with first-degree murder, brought in his dash cam in early 2014 to have a wiring problem fixed, and got it back three months later, on June 17. The very next day, the dash cam was broken again. This time it took until October 8 to fix what appeared to be intentional damage. Less than two weeks later, his dash-cam footage of the McDonald shooting (which differs from the viral video we all saw) had no sound. Police records show that the microphones in his car had never been synced up to the camera. (Emphasis added)

    “In December, Chicago’s interim police superintendent, John Escalante, started handing out reprimands and suspensions of up to three days to officers who damaged their dash cams. Each week’s video is receiving an audit from the superintendent’s office. A police spokesperson says the department has seen a 70 percent increase in the number of video uploads by officers since penalties have been enforced.”
    https://www.mintpressnews.com/chicago-police-have-been-sabotaging-their-dash-cams/213174/

  10. There are legitimate privacy interests that need to be addressed. If cops are going to wear operating cameras at all times, my preference, then persons they interact with in an otherwise private space have an interest in whether the recording is available to the public at large. Obviously, the fox guarding the henhouse is not a good way to go. But completely disregarding the privacy interests of third parties isn’t the way to go, either.

  11. @Richard
    1, January 30, 2016 at 12:27 am

    “There are legitimate privacy interests that need to be addressed. If cops are going to wear operating cameras at all times, my preference, then persons they interact with in an otherwise private space have an interest in whether the recording is available to the public at large. Obviously, the fox guarding the henhouse is not a good way to go. But completely disregarding the privacy interests of third parties isn’t the way to go, either.”
    ————–
    Are you expressing disingenuously your opposition to videotaping police interactions with the public, or are you merely belaboring the obvious?

  12. BarkinDog – Hey, wait a minute with your nasty comments about the Hoosier state. I grew up there, but how do you know so much about it? 😆

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