Ohio lawmakers want limits on when police bodycam footage is released to public

As more police departments use body cameras, it raises concerns about transparency, accountability and privacy. (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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As more police departments use body cameras, it raises concerns about transparency, accountability and privacy. (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Ohio lawmakers voted 88-0 in favor of a bill that lays out which dashboard camera and police body camera footage is public and when the government can withhold it from release.

As more police departments use body cameras, it raises concerns about transparency, accountability and privacy.

Related: Ohio bill lays out which police body cam footage should be public

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, the bill sponsor, argued that it strikes a balance between transparency and protecting privacy rights.

Exempt from disclosure would be footage that captures the inside of a private home or business or video of a sex crime victim, according to the bill. Also exempt from disclosure would be footage that is a confidential investigatory record. Otherwise, the law would presume that the footage is a public record, Antani said.

“What we tried to do is provide accountability for those on both sides of the camera,” he said. He noted that the bill went through 15 drafts and the final version is now supported by prosecutors, police, civil rights groups and others.

Related: Ohio looks to decide what police body, dashboard video is public

Currently, each political subdivision has its own rules on what footage is or isn’t a public record, Antani said. “Under current law, it’s the wild west.”

People seeking withheld footage could sue in the courts to get it released.

State Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, noted that “street reporters” are capturing interactions with police as it happens through FaceBook Live and other new apps. She urged Ohio officials to move toward achieving true police accountability.

State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, said