Bill filed to exempt certain police body-cam and dash-cam recordings from FOI | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bill filed to exempt certain police body-cam and dash-cam recordings from FOI

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 9:56 AM

WILLIAMS: Seeks to limit FOI access to body-cam and dash-cam
  • WILLIAMS: Seeks to limit FOI access to body-cam and dash-cam
Rep. Jeff Williams (R-Springdale) filed a bill yesterday to exempt any recordings from police body-worn cameras or dash cameras that is deemed "relevant to an investigation conducted by a law enforcement agency" from disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act "until the investigation is complete."

Prosecutors and police can already claim exemption from the FOI because of an ongoing criminal investigation by a law enforcement agency (and indeed, have often abused the exemption, attempting to claim it even in situations in which the  criminal matter is closed or the police have already made their recommendation to the prosecutor).

Given that, it is not clear what the purpose of this bill is other than to codify a very broad, blanket excuse for the police to avoid or delay making body-cam or dash-cam footage public under any circumstances. The language "relevant to an investigation" sounds vague and potentially open to broad interpretation. The first thought that comes to mind is an indefinite internal investigation about an officer's conduct. Or the police could claim an exemption for an interaction that happened prior to the opening of a criminal investigation — which is typically subject to the FOI under current law (for example, the 911 tapes in the Wade Naramore hot car case).

In practice, the police themselves would be making this initial determination about what was exempt. (A judge could force them to turn something over if someone seeking an FOI took the police to court.)

Famously, it was the FOI'd dash-cam recordings of an altercation between Little Rock police officers and former state Surgeon General Joe Thompson that revealed a story that seemed sharply different than what the police initially claimed.

Dash-cam footage was in the news more recently when video was released of the arrest of Rep. John Walker, which the LRPD later apologized for.

The Williams bill is on the agenda in the House Judiciary committee, which meets this morning.

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

Readers also liked…

  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016
  • Two plead in fraud of sheriff's office

    A former employee of the Pulaski County sheriff and a North Little Rock woman who sold goods to the sheriff's office have pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a scheme to steal from the sheriff's office, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
    • May 16, 2017
  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation