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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 19, 2021 05:03 PM
From: Representative Dan L. Miller and Rep. Austin A. Davis
To: All House members
Subject: Transparency in Recording of Law Enforcement
In 2017, the legislature rightfully approved the use of body cameras by law enforcement in Pennsylvania. We believe this important tool has ultimately protected both officers and the public and has led to some improvements in relations and de-escalation. However, in passing Act 22 we also drastically changed how the public could access police videos- not just body cameras, but basically every type of police video recorded anywhere through any type of police device. Additionally, the bill did not protect or provide rules regarding the ability of the public to record law enforcement activity while on the job. Recent history has solidified the value of this- often to citizens and departments alike.

Our legislation largely reduces these shortcomings, which to us decreased the value of authorizing body cameras and needlessly restricted access to video footage that had previously been subject to our Right to Know Law.
Specifically, this bill:
  1. Returns all non-body camera police video to the purview of the Right to Know Law, as was the case before Act 22;
  2. Increases the amount of time a person has to request body camera footage from 60 to 180 days;
  3. Increases the ways a person may formal request such footage;
  4. Increases response time for such requests;
  5. Increases appeal rights by providing for review by the Office of Open Records;
  6. Develops a uniform request form;
  7. Protects and enshrines the right of citizens to record police officers who are conducting official business without interference from them; and
  8. Codifies that citizens cannot violate the law or interfere with police officer responsibilities when making the recording.
This bill, in recognition of the will of the legislature previously, keeps the exact investigative exemption language relating to body cameras that is currently in Act 22. However, it also makes sure that the right of citizens to record is protected and codified with clarity.
Please join us in promoting police accountability, transparency, and citizen responsibility when it comes to recording law enforcement. A draft of our proposal is included below.

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Introduced as HB626