Florida bill would limit access to police body cam video

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Right now, any person can request copies of police body camera video, recorded by Fort Myers or Cape Coral officers.

That is, unless the video is part of an ongoing criminal investigation, the same as any public record.

But a new bill, passed in the Florida Senate this week, would restrict access to body cam videos even further.

We spoke with Barbara Petersen over the phone. She’s the president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation.

“It completely defeats the purpose of why they are wearing the body cams in the first place,” said Petersen.

In the bill, body cam videos would be kept confidential, if shot in a house, a health care facility, “or any place that a reasonable person would expect to be private.”

“I think Senator Smith is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist,” said Petersen.

Senator Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale introduced the bill. He told the Associated Press, he’s trying to protect the public’s privacy.

“We can protect privacy while allowing for oversight. The entire video is exempt in certain circumstances. We have suggested blurring the image of those persons captured on the video, so we can see what happened but we don’t see the face of the person who is being videotaped,” said Petersen.

The bill also adds, that for those who still want that video, they need to prove their intentions in court. We spoke with one woman in child healthcare, who says she’s torn on the issue.

“I think there’s certain places, the confidentiality has to be upheld. How effective are they, if we are going to decide, well some we can get, some we can’t,” said Patricia Malik.

The bill does say, any person caught on video interacting with police, has a right to request the video.

Relatives and people who live in the same house, can do the same. This bill, has not passed the Florida House of Representatives.

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