On July 1, Assembly Bill 748 will go into effect where California Law Enforcement must release body camera footage within 45-days of a critical incident.
The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and signed by Governor Brown in 2018.
“Public access to body camera footage is necessary to boost confidence and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said Ting on Wednesday. “This law sets clear expectations for agencies – they can no longer withhold body camera video or audio from us.”
According to Ting, prior to the passage of AB 748, California had no consistent policy regarding the release of body camera recordings. In April of 2018, the Los Angeles Police Commission adopted a policy similar to the new state law. But other departments commonly cite “pending investigation” as a reason to deny requests for footage under the Public Records Act.
As a follow up to AB 748, Ting is working on legislation, AB 1215, this year that would prohibit law enforcement from using facial recognition software in body cameras. Such technology defeats the purpose of body cameras, which are typically adopted to bolster community relations and trust. The addition of facial recognition software would essentially amount to 24-hour surveillance without consent. In addition, face scanning technology routinely misidentifies people, particularly women, youth and people of color. AB 1215 is currently eligible for a Senate Floor vote that could send the proposed ban to the Governor by the September 13th bill deadline.