New law will require transparent policies on police body cameras

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A bill requiring localities to adopt and establish written policies for the operation of body-worn camera systems was signed into law yesterday by Gov. Ralph Northam.

House Bill 246, sponsored by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, will establish transparent policies for how police departments should use body-worn cameras and maintain and store records from those cameras.

“Body-worn cameras provide important evidence and context, especially when the facts of an interaction between an officer and a member of the public are in dispute,” Northam said. “Model policies will help ensure public input across the Commonwealth and will increase needed transparency in our criminal justice process.”

The policies will use as guidance the model policy established by the Department of Criminal Justice Services prior to purchasing or deploying a body-worn camera system.

The new law also requires localities to make such policy available for public comment and review prior to its adoption.

“Police-worn body cameras protect both law enforcement and the citizens they interact with,” Levine said. “With transparent policies for the use of body cameras, we will help increase accountability and build stronger relationships between law enforcement and the citizens they serve in communities across Virginia.”


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