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Tuesday - March 20, 2018 7:01 am

Senate should scrap bill putting restrictions on police body cam videos

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This is Sunshine Week in Wisconsin. It is a time to celebrate openness and transparency in government, and to push for more, to ensure our public officials remain honest in office. The timing is ironic as the Wisconsin Legislature debates keeping secret the video captured by police body cameras. More and more cops, including those in La Crosse, are wearing body cameras while on patrol. But there remains great debate about what to do with the footage these cameras capture. The Assembly passed legislation placing tight restrictions on footage police gather. Basically, it would ensure that in most cases, the general public would never be able to see body camera footage. But even supporters of keeping the video out of the hands of the public cannot cite a specific example of when any police force in the state has, under the state's open records law, released video footage which should not have been released. We don't need specific rules for body cams. Just let the open records laws govern the distribution of the video. That seems to be working just fine. The fact is the footage these cameras gather is designed to provide transparency about what officers do. It can hold them responsible for any bad behavior, but also protect officers from false claims of mistreatment. The tape doesn't lie. But if we aren't going to force police to release video footage captured during disputed situations, then it only raises suspicions. The Senate should scrap this current bill and let the sun shine in!

Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw is the Program Director for both 1410 WIZM and 580 WKTY.   He's currently the morning news anchor on 1410 WIZM, Z93 and 95-7 The Rock.  He joined Mid-West Family Broadcasting as a reporter/anchor in 1989 and served as News Director from 1990-2015.   He's been the winner of several Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association awards for Best Editorial in Wisconsin.  He enjoys traveling, bicycling and cooking.

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