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Privacy vs Transparancy Key Issue in Police Body Camera Use Legislation

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Lawmakers debated a bill on Wednesday that would create a statewide minimum standard for the use of police body cameras, but ran out of time before being able to take a vote.

Republican Rep. Dan McCay says he’s been working on this particularly piece of legislation for more than two years. He says while HB300 isn’t perfect, it represents a lot of work and compromise, some of which is ongoing.

One of the last big issues to decide is whether this is a policy decision the state should make, or a rulemaking decision the Utah Police Officer Standards and Training board or POST should make. McCay says he thinks it’s a policy decision.

“I have nothing against POST," he says. "You just have to recognize POST responsibility is policing law enforcement, not necessarily protecting and creating standards that protect the citizenry and transparency types of things.”

Chief Tom Ross is the president of the State Chiefs of Police Association. While he says he’s OK with most of the policies laid out in McCay’s bill, he says allowing POST to make the rules would allow them to shape policy more quickly as technology changes.

“And the conversations we’ve been having on all sides of this will be part of that POST policy," he says. "We’ve even willing to commit to it if we can work out these last couple of issues making that the POST policy.”

Ultimately, all sides of the debate are seeking to find a balance between transparency and privacy and both McCay and Ross say they’re confident they’ll find a solution. While members of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice committee ran out of time to vote on the bill Wednesday, they’ll likely get another chance this Friday. 

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