By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers, law enforcement and media outlets are trying to figure out how the state’s open records law applies to police body camera video.
The Government Records Access and Management Act currently defines electronic records. But Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said there’s substantial and material differences between emails, text messages, and even police dash-cam video, and an officer’s body-cam.
Body-cam footage is considered a public record, but the question is under what circumstances should it be classified as a private or protected record.
“That’s what we’re trying to wrestle with, but to do so in a way that gives some framework so that it also enhances openness and transparency,” Bramble said.
Some police agencies have released body-cam video in recent high-profile shootings. But other departments have expressed concern about if, when and how much footage to make public.
The Senate Business and Labor Committee passed a vague version of the bill Wednesday. But Bramble said SB157 would undergo substantial changes before it goes the Senate floor.
The final draft depends on whether various interest groups reach an agreement. If they don’t, Bramble said, the bill would not advance. He said he’s hoping to have a consensus bill by the end of next week.
The bill would also deal with an issue that arose out the investigation into former Attorney General John Swallow related to online coaching or mentoring companies, Bramble said. That industry contributed heavily to his election campaign and that of his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, and has drawn scrutiny from state and federal regulators.
The state records law currently classifies complaints made about those types of businesses to the Utah’s consumer protection division as protected records. The bill would make complaints under the business opportunity and telemarketing fraud acts public records, Bramble said