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Experts Discuss Best Body Camera Policies Regarding Privacy, Public Records

Larry James, general counsel for the National FOP
Andy Chow

Police officers in Ohio’s biggest cities are either already using or about to use body cameras. And experts are trying to get ahead of potential problems by talking about the policies that should be implemented. 

One big question for local leaders on the body camera issue is: when should police officers turn them on and when to turn them off? Larry James, general counsel for the National Fraternal Order of Police, says there have to be strong policies in place so police officers can still do their jobs.

“The real world complicates that issue. Let’s assume the officer’s talking to an informant and obviously that confidentiality comes into question. Those are the type of real life situations that you’re determining,” said James.

Dennis Hetzel with the Ohio Newspaper Association says his group doesn’t have a strong position on when the cameras are supposed to be on, but he does say once they’re turned on all of the content, for the most part, must be protected.

“These are going to be public records under the revised code and once they’re public records they’re presumptively open and should be discoverable with the reasonable exemptions that we should have or that we have to create,” Hetzel said.

There is a proposed bill that would create some statewide uniform standards for the use of body cameras and its availability as public record.

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