In Wisconsin, the public records law is pretty clear. Basically, government records are considered to be open and available to the public except in very rare circumstances. That law has served the state well for decades. But when technology changes, the laws need to keep up. That’s why Wisconsin is working to adopt new rules governing what to do with the footage from body cameras being worn by more and more police. Currently, there is no law in Wisconsin regulating the footage captured by police body cams. Lawmakers in the last legislative session tried to pass a law covering body cam footage, but under that bill nearly all footage would be off limits to the public. That would have put it in direct conflict with the rest of the state’s public records law. A legislative study committee has now finished its work on a bill that would create statewide standards for retaining body camera footage. Basically, it says each police agency using body cams must have a written policy for how the footage can be used, and retained. All officers wearing body cams would have to be trained on the policies for use and storage.All footage would have to be retained for 120 days, and any footage showing a minor, a victim of a sensitive or violent crime could be blacked out. This bill is much more in line with the rest of the state’s public records laws. The committee did an excellent job balancing the public’s right to know with a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. The heavy lifting has been done. Now it is up the legislature to make this bill law, so there are consistent statewide standards for how this footage should be treated under the law.