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New Florida law allows some police body camera footage to be kept confidential

North Port Police Department is the only law enforcement agency in Sarasota County that use body cameras.
North Port Police Department is the only law enforcement agency in Sarasota County that use body cameras.(Source: North Port Police Department)
Published: Oct. 4, 2020 at 4:31 PM CDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -Florida implemented 24 new laws on Oct. 1, one of which focused on law enforcement body cameras.

With the new law, law enforcement’s body camera footage will be kept confidential if it was taken inside a person’s home, inside a mental heath care or social services facility, or a place a “reasonable person” would expect to be private. Board Certified Criminal Defense Lawyer, Derek Byrd, said the last section of the law is extremely broad and could be defined differently depending on the person.

Even though this new law restricts the public from seeing some body camera footage depending on the location, the law still does allow someone to go to a judge to get the video.

“They do allow for a court to make a independent ruling for as to whether or not that could be released. I think that’s a good idea. I think that there’s going to be situations where law enforcement may not want to release it and they may not want to release it for good reasons where they thought it was violating someone’s privacy. Or they may not want to release it because they’re afraid that it could be something that they don’t want the media to get a hold of because maybe they have done something wrong, in where that you could force their hand,” Byrd said.

Byrd said even though this law has its pros and cons, he wishes the the state instead would pass a law requiring all law enforcement agencies to require body cameras. In Sarasota County, The North Port Police Department is the only agency that currently has body cameras. However, The Sarasota Police Department will discuss implementing body cameras at a city commission meeting on Monday.

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