SC House Votes to Keep Body Cam Video Secret

SCMPD awarded federal grant to buy more body cams (Image 1)

 The South Carolina House gave its final approval Thursday to a bill to require all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, but the video from those cameras would be kept secret. The video would not be subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The original Senate bill would allow the video to be released.
Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, the sponsor of the amendment in the House, says the concern is over the privacy of victims and children who would appear in those police videos, along with police informants.
“I don’t know that I believe that the purpose for body cameras is for the public to see every incident that law enforcement has. I think the purpose is evidence gathering and accountability,” he says. Pope is a former prosecutor. He says even if the public doesn’t see the video from body cams, it would still be used to prosecute or clear officers accused of wrongdoing, as well as prosecute or clear people accused of crimes whose actions might be caught on the body cams.
The House also agreed not to implement the requirement for a year, with six months used to study the law enforcement agencies that are already using them and another six months for the Law Enforcement Training Council to write guidelines for the use of the cameras.
Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Hartsville, sponsor of the original bill, says he’s concerned about the delay. “We want body cameras,” he says. “The question is how? And so if we wait for six months, and then what are we going to decide then, that we don’t want them?”
The bill now goes back to the Senate, since the House made changes. Sen. Malloy says he thinks the Senate will not agree to those changes, so the House and Senate will appoint three members each for a conference committee to work out a compromise that both bodies would support.

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