Legislation that would have required police departments to make public dashboard camera video of any officer-involved shootings and to update the state’s Freedom of Information Act died after House and Senate negotiators could not agree to merge the bills before adjourning for the year last week.
The dashboard camera proposal’s lead sponsor State Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said the bill would prevent situations that can occur now in which police withhold a dash cam video but do not explain why or say simply that the investigation is not complete. “Dash cam footage that might bare in a situation where a person was is shot by a police officer or there was encounter with a police officer on the side of the road,” said Martin.
The bill would have required law enforcement get a court order in order to keep the footage confidential, and only if officers could show how the video’s release would harm an ongoing investigation. Martin said it provides consistency for law enforcement, prosecutors and the public instead of the current handling of such requests, in which he said police or prosecutors do not have to detail why they are not releasing the video.
In the regular session’s waning hours earlier this month, House leaders attached an amendment that mirrored their own separate open records legislation which had stalled in the Senate. The two sides were unable to reach a compromise before the final day of session Wednesday.
Martin vowed to try again, but he still faces a challenge to even return to the Senate next year. Neither Martin nor his primary challenger Rex Ryan received a majority of the vote in last week’s primary and will face off again in a June 28 runoff.