HARRISBURG — Legislation approved by the Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday seeks to clear legal hurdles for police departments to expand their officers’ use of body cameras, and it gives departments the discretion to refuse public requests for copies of audio or video recordings by officers.
The bill, which passed 47-1 after brief comments on the Senate floor, would add Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that are setting statewide policy over the collection of audio and video by officers, including from dashboard and body cameras.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect is the bill’s exemption of recordings from requests under Pennsylvania’s open-records law, although a court still could order the release of a police recording.
The bill also sets limits on requests. In particular, it provides a window of just 20 days after an incident to submit a request for a copy of an officer’s audio or video recording.