The Louisiana Legislature has given final passage to a bill that outlines access to footage from body cameras worn by police.
Senate Bill 398 now heads to the governor for approval.
As initially proposed, the bill would have made all body camera footage exempt from state public records requirements — unless a court ordered its release — but it was heavily amended after facing pushback from several advocates, including those representing the media. It now largely mirrors existing state public records laws.
Under the measure, anyone seeking access to body camera recordings that are public records would have to submit detailed requests, as they currently do, and pay for the copying of the footage in advance. Further, recordings that violate a “reasonable expectation of privacy” won’t be released without a court order, and evidence related to ongoing investigations can be withheld.
Supporters of the bill say it provides clarity and guidance for law enforcement as they navigate the new technology, instead of individual agencies relying on their own interpretations that can lead to lawsuits.
A separate piece of legislation that also has passed this session will re-create a task force to study the use of body cameras in law enforcement.
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