Proposed Oklahoma Bill Would Require Officer Body Cams On At All Times

Monday, January 27th 2020, 8:10 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

With a week to go before the start of a new legislative session, a proposed house bill is already getting attention from law enforcement and community activists across the state.

House Bill 3515 would require law enforcement who have body cameras to keep them on at all times when interacting with the public.

"If you mean to do wrong, that is what this bill addresses," said Rep. Regina Goodwin, a democrat from Tulsa representing District 73, and the author of the bill.

"I have constituents in the community that have had incidents with our officers,” said Goodwin. “For all the great officers that are doing their jobs, wonderful. We're talking about the officers that choose to hide, obscure, and not do right."

The bill would also make it illegal for any officer to redact, erase, copy, share or alter any recording. Officers could be guilty of a misdemeanor if they operate the body-worn equipment in a manner that prevents the creation of evidence.

Critics said the bill is not realistic.

"This bill, I think has good intentions by the representative but is full of unintended consequences," said Jerad Lindsey, the chairman of the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police. "There's no need to record your coffee break at the QuikTrip, and by doing that you're increasing the amount of video that has to be stored, and that increases the cost."

Lindsey thinks the bill would hurt small departments who can't afford the storage and lead to some departments getting rid of body cameras altogether.

"Officers want these cameras and they want that footage recorded, because we know that bad guys lie,” said Lindsey. “We want them as much as the activists want them."

However, Goodwin said the storage should not be an issue.

"There are ways to store the data, and so that should not be a false argument that folks are presenting," Goodwin said.

The new legislative session begins February 3.