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As I See It

Don’t hide police body cam footage

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Wisconsin has a long tradition of openness in government. We expect the public’s business to be conducted in the light of day. That is why government meetings, except under specific circumstances, are expected to be open to the public, as are records of what happened at those meetings. But when it comes to police body camera footage, some of our lawmakers are ignoring the long history of openness, and trying to keep us from seeing that footage. The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill which would make it very difficult for the public to ever see police body cam footage. Under the bill, video would only be available to the public if it is taken in a public place and if it involved a death, physical harm, an arrest or a search. And only if all victims and witnesses agree to release it. That likely means very few videos would be available for the public to review. That is unnecessarily restrictive. State law already allows for the withholding of video. Police typically withhold footage if a case is still under investigation and even after a case is closed could still not release the footage if doing so could be harmful to the public. This bill is unnecessary and ill-conceived. Our state senators should make sure this bill, like the footage they are trying to protect, never sees the light of day.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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