PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Police body-cam video has been a useful tool in Arizona and across the country, helping determine whether a police officer followed proper procedure. State lawmakers just voted to give $7 million to Arizona's Department of Public Safety to buy 2,400 new body cameras and an additional $6.9 million for support staff and software.

Police body-cam

File photo from a police body-cam.

But there's no guarantee the public will see the video being recorded. A stipulation in this year's budget places restrictions on any video, and whether it's released to the public. The restriction states that DPS may only release (video recordings) to the public if:

"All people in the video, except the peace officer, consent and any identifying information redacted ... and if DPS determines there is an important public purpose."

Phoenix attorney Ben Taylor understands the need to protect victims and children, but said that preventing the public from seeing a questionable confrontation is not the answer. "If you want true transparency and true honesty and true justice, everybody should be able to watch what's on the camera. That's how you know what actually happened that day when the officer pulled over that person."

Last-minute provisions to Arizona budget bill could limit public access to DPS body-cam footage

Shortly after Geroge Floyd's death, a number of law enforcement agencies, including the Phoenix Police Department, started releasing body-cam footage within days of officer altercations, but the DPS body-cam program will be run differently.

Attorney Steve Serbalik, with AZCops, represents law enforcement officers across the state. He said that placing restrictions on public requests does not mean body-cam footage won't be released. It simply helps limit frivolous inquiries while saving money and protect people's privacy, said Serbalik. "Law enforcement supports the use of body cameras as a tool, but we have to weigh that with how does this impact expectations and interactions with police," said Serbalik. "Do you want that worst moment of your life captured on body-cam, but subject to your neighbor to see how you looked in a speeding ticket?" The restrictions include all DPS video and not just body camera footage.


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