Lights, Camera, Inaction!

02.19.15 Post by Ian Kantonen

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In light of many tragedies that are now gaining public attention, people are demanding action. Even though body cameras are not the “magical solution” to attain police accountability, it currently is the only tangible action that legislators seem interested in taking. On Thursday February 19th, SF 498 will be introduced to the Minnesota House which makes any footage recorded by body cameras essentially private. The bill is being sponsored by two former cops, and it shows.

First, it not so subtly creates barriers against getting video footage even if you are the subject of the data. The bill states that the data subject can submit a written request to retain the data for possible use. It has been proven that once one creates barriers to obtaining information, it results in a culture of privileged and restricted information. Speaking of privilege, this bill gives advantages to the officers as opposed to the public, resulting in a lack of police accountability. Officers can make copies of these videos, this seems contradictory to the authors stated goal of data privacy. The whole bill is incredibly vague, but especially so when it comes to details regarding how long to retain the footage and when to destroy it.

Bottom line, Minnesota has the highest financial racial inequity in the whole country. We need to be taking legislative action in forms other than body camera bills written by former police officers. I urge our legislators to think about helping the people that are most affected by the tragedies surrounding police accountability and other racial disparities and listen to those voices while making policy decisions as well.

– Rachel Haile, MPIRG UMTC Chapter Co- Chair

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