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Police Body-Worn Cameras: Where Your State Stands

Policies concerning body-worn cameras vary considerably across the country. Use our legislation tracker to find out more about passed and pending laws in your state.

For 400 days, Chicago withheld video of an officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald until a Cook County judge ordered its release. Public support for police body-worn cameras has grown in the wake of several high-profile shooting deaths, including McDonald’s. But whether cameras will improve police accountability and transparency, as supporters expect, depends heavily on how and when they’re used and whether the footage is released.

These details are governed by state laws and local policies that are still very much up for debate.

“A lot hangs in those details,” said Nancy La Vigne, director of Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center. “Those policies and practices can make the technology more or less powerful in its intended impact. And there’s a high degree of variation among states and localities.”

While the footage in McDonald’s case came from dashboard cameras and not body-worn cameras, questions about when—or whether—to release the videos touch on the same issues. Illinois state law says that police can withhold footage from public records requests to protect active investigations—what Chicago argued it was doing and had always done. But McDonald’s case has prompted the city to take another look at its video-release policy.

Read more here: http://apps.urban.org/features/body-camera/?platform=hootsuite