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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 4, 2020 10:21 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: Studying how body-worn cameras can produce positive, safe outcomes
Body-worn cameras have become more widely used by law enforcement offices throughout the United States, including policing and corrections. 
A Department of Justice study found that 95 percent of the nation’s largest departments have been using body cameras, or planned to adopt them, by 2015. Further, a Bureau of Justice Statistics study found “47% of general-purpose law enforcement agencies had acquired body-worn cameras” as of 2016, of which “60% of local police departments and 49% of sheriffs' offices had fully deployed their body-worn cameras”.
Presently, the Pennsylvania State Police are piloting the use of body-worn cameras, and the Philadelphia Police Department — the 4th largest in the country — will be fully deploying body-worn cameras over the next several years.
It is important to ensure that body-worn camera footage protects both law enforcement officers and civilians during conflicts. And it is vital body-worn camera footage be available to prosecution, defense, and the public as necessary to aid in the speedy and just resolution of criminal cases.
In 2017, Governor Tom Wolf signed a law that enabled law enforcement officers to use body cameras on the job without risking illegal wiretapping or lawsuit charges. Also, Pennsylvania is still lagging behind other states in terms of law enforcement body camera usage and studies. 
Because law enforcement officers and agencies in Pennsylvania face several obstacles concerning body-worn cameras, including cost and footage usage, it is essential that body-worn camera footage is used more effectively if all pieces of footage — regardless of use in legal proceedings — were studied to understand how they are used in criminal justice systems throughout the Commonwealth.
Therefore, this resolution seeks to impanel the Joint State Government Commission to study how, and by whom, body-worn camera footage is currently used and stored in this Commonwealth; assess the cost of filming, storing, and reviewing the complete body-worn camera footage recorded; include recommendations to ensure that such footage is used for the justice of all and shielded from cyber threats; and establish an advisory committee comprised of, but not limited to, individuals who have expertise or experience in one or more of the following fields, positions, or situations: 
• Criminal justice;
• Policing;
• Prosecution;
• Criminal Defense; 
• Corrections;
• Body-worn camera research;
• Law enforcement training;
• Racial justice;
• Psychology; 
• Big Data in criminal justice;
• Cyber security;
• Collective bargaining; 
• Algorithms in criminal justice;
• Ethics;
• Surveillance and facial recognition technology; and
• Being involved in an incident where body-worn camera footage was utilized.
I urge your support for this timely resolution.

Introduced as HR923