Friday - October 6, 2017 8:59 am

Body cam footage should be public record

Written by

In the wake of fatal shootings by police across the country, police body cams are becoming more popular. Many police departments, including La Crosse, are outfitting their officers with body cams so we can get a clearer picture of just what happened in these situations. But outfitting officers with cameras is not enough. We need to figure out the rules for what to do with the footage. Whether it will be a public record available for all to see, and how long the footage needs to be retained are among the issues that need to be decided. Wisconsin legislators are trying to decide those issues so far, but we're not encouraged by what we see so far. The bill being debated would largely prevent much of the camera footage from the public's eye. The footage would largely be exempt from the state's public records law. Part of that is to protect the privacy of footage recorded in private places, such as a person's home. But the purpose of these body cameras is to allow us to see with our own eyes what happened. Too many police involved shootings have not given us an accurate account of just what happened. And until we can see what happened, people are still going to discount one person's version of the events. Body cameras can be an effective tool to ending speculation about an officer's actions, particularly in racially charged shootings. It is in the interest of police and the public that the body cam footage be available for all to see.

Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw is the Program Director for both 1410 WIZM and 580 WKTY.   He's currently the morning news anchor on 1410 WIZM, Z93 and 95-7 The Rock.  He joined Mid-West Family Broadcasting as a reporter/anchor in 1989 and served as News Director from 1990-2015.   He's been the winner of several Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association awards for Best Editorial in Wisconsin.  He enjoys traveling, bicycling and cooking.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.