Pennsylvania ACLU states concerns with House bill governing police use of cameras

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HARRISBURG — The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania issued a statement criticizing a Pennsylvania House bill that would govern police use of cameras — including body-worn cameras — and would severely limit the public’s access to the footage the cameras produce.

“If this bill becomes law, as it appears it will, the ability of the public to access police video will be nearly impossible,” ACLU of Pennsylvania executive director Reggie Shuford said in a statement. “The promise of police body-worn cameras was to provide additional documentation for greater accountability and transparency in police practices. Instead, these cameras will become a tool for more surveillance and for manipulation.”

Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, decried the lack of resistance from legislators as it made its way through the House.

“The message from lawmakers is clear: Let the police hide what they do,” she said. “No one should be surprised when we no longer see police video or when law enforcement selectively chooses which video to release and not to release.”

Although the bill, Senate Bill 560, originated in the Senate, it was amended by the House, so it must return to the Senate for another vote before it reaches Governor Wolf’s desk.