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Bill regulating police body cameras moves forward

SALT LAKE CITY — State lawmakers appear to have settled on legislation regulating police use of body-worn cameras.

The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved HB300 on Monday. Meantime, Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, pulled his similar but competing bill and is now the Senate sponsor for Rep. Dan McCay's measure. It now moves to the Senate floor.

The major difference between the two bills was whether the Legislature or the state's Peace Officer Standards and Training division would set minimum standards for how police agencies use the emerging technology.

Under HB300, the Legislature would make those policies.

The bill would require police to record incidents from start to finish, with exceptions for consulting with a supervisor and talking to a victim or witness. It includes provisions for keeping footage private, such as children in a home or nudity, but leaves other standards to local agencies.

"I think it's important for the public to have trust in the process and trust in the technology," McCay, R-Riverton, said earlier.

Thatcher said the proposed law prescribes policies that law enforcement is already following.

"We feel good about where we ended up," said Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross, president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association.

Media attorney Jeff Hunt told a House committee last month that McCay's bill strikes the right balance between accountability and transparency on one hand, and personal privacy and law enforcement interests on the other.

Records under the state Government Records Access and Management Act are presumed to be public unless classified otherwise in state or federal law. Hunt said there are 12 exceptions in the law that could potentially be applied to body-camera footage, including ones for personal privacy and ongoing investigations.

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