COLUMBUS—Today the ACLU of Ohio gave testimony to the Ohio House Local Government Committee on House Bill 407, which attempts to put in place standards for the use of police body worn cameras. The ACLU expressed concerns about the lack of specific guidance in the proposed legislation.
“Ohio needs more than what HB 407 provides,” said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio. “This bill only requires that law enforcement adopt a policy on the use of body worn cameras. It is inconceivable that law enforcement would purchase and use body cameras without having their own policies in place. What Ohio needs are specific statewide standards that assure both the public and law enforcement benefit from this technology.”
The ACLU of Ohio also provided model legislation and language to lawmakers outlining the best practices for navigating concerns around privacy, transparency, and law enforcement accountability. Other stakeholders have presented similar recommendations.
Read the full testimony and model bill.
“There is already much agreement from various stakeholders, including those representing law enforcement, as to what effective regulation looks like,” Daniels said. “Model bills and best practices submitted by other organizations are fundamentally similar to what the ACLU proposes. Citizens need policies that protect their privacy, hold law enforcement accountable and preserve access to public records. Law enforcement needs requirements that are not overly-restrictive and let them do their jobs. True uniformity will ensure that body cameras will be widely accepted by the public and police alike.
“Make no mistake, body cameras are the present and future of law enforcement. But, these cameras will only be as successful as the law, regulations, and policies put in place to guide them. Every week this task remains undone, the more chance problems arise. The legislature’s first step in addressing this issues must not be a missed opportunity.”