2015 Bills

HB386: Creating Statewide Guidelines for Police Body Cameras

This bill was not considered by the legislature.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Libertas Institute spent hundreds of man hours over the past year working on a comprehensive proposal for the use of body cameras in Utah. This effort, in conjunction with community partners and civil liberties allies like the Utah chapter of ACLU and the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has culminated in House Bill 386, sponsored by Representative Dan McCay.

This bill would set statewide minimum standards for the use of body cameras in Utah protecting the rights of all Utahns and providing predictability in the use of police body cameras.

Across the country, police are adopting the use of body-worn cameras in response to the desire of the public for more public transparency in the use of force. Studies in Rialto California and other police departments have shown that the use of body cameras yield better results for both officers and the public. While cameras offer an excellent tool for transparency in police work, they also present a significant threat to the privacy of citizens. Body cameras represent a potentially advanced form of surveillance as a body camera can go into homes and other private areas an officer may go. Moreover, the selective or inconsistent use of body cameras can skew the potential evidence that recordings provide. For these reasons, the use of body cameras requires a more thoughtful set of policies to ensure that the privacy of the public is protected and that the use of body cameras are consistent and predictable across the state.

This bill does not mandate law enforcement agencies to use body cameras. However, for those agencies that do utilize cameras, the bill sets minimum standards across the state to follow when implementing a body camera program. Provisions include guidance for when cameras must be turned on, how footage is to be used, and how recordings are to be retained and disclosed. The bill seeks to strike a balance between the needs of law enforcement and the rights of the public.

Key provisions include:

  • Law enforcement agencies must have written policies governing body camera usage and make those policies available to the public.
  • Body cameras must be activated during any law enforcement encounter.
  • Body cameras must be activated for any warranted entry into a home.
  • To protect privacy, body camera recordings that do not have a significant police interest should not be retained for longer than 90 days.
  • Body camera recordings that record people when they would otherwise have an expectation of privacy will be protected from disclosure to the general public under GRAMA.
  • Violations of policy or unauthorized alterations of recordings will not be permitted to be used in a way that undermines the rights of accused criminal defendants in court.
  • Law enforcement agencies must utilize software that protects the security and integrity of retained recordings.
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