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N4T Investigators: Body Cam Bill

PHOENIX (KVOA) - If Arizona House Bill 2893 is passed, it would become more difficult for the public to get their hands on officer body camera video. 

 "This bill promotes secrecy, not openness," David Bodney, local media and public access lawyer said. 

Tuesday, House and Senate appropriations committee members approved the bill which aims to spend millions on state trooper body cameras.   

"There's a couple of items in here that I don't feel comfortable with either but the majority of it is strong and a good policy coming forward,” Regina Cobb, State Representative (R) said. 

However, before they met up two changes were added. The first would give Arizona's Department of Public Safety (DPS) almost total authority to turn down public records requests for body cam video if it decides the state's best interests outweigh handing it over. 

"It would require denial of a request if the request does not contain certain magic words or information like the specific location of where the recording occurred, or the name of the known subject of the recording,” Bodney said. 

He said the second change would let the department charge more for a video. 

Normally you only pay for a copy of a records request. 

But the bill would allow the department to charge for the copy, time spent finding information, and making redactions. It would even let it consider the hourly pay of the employee fulfilling your request. 

The bill is not law yet as it only passed the committee. Now, the House and Senate chambers must take a vote. 

Arizona already has laws to protect our right to public information. 

But the News 4 Tucson Investigators were told that if the bill passes, the Department of Public Safety would be the only state agency that doesn't follow them. 

A DPS spokesperson said they can't comment on pending legislation. 

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Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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