Although there is much confusion and legislation regarding body cameras, a few states have made this a requirement for all their police and law enforcement officers. For those not wearing body cams, a proper reason must be stated for doing so. These states are California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. There is also existing legislation in the District of Columbia.
Recently passed legislation has added a few new states to the list of those who require body cameras. Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, New Jersey, and New York have all added laws in the past couple of years to require body camera footage.
While the states listed above have mandated this, six more states have pending legislation surrounding the use of body cams for law enforcement officers. These states are Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Some of these states already have laws regarding the use of body cameras such as if audio-only recording is prohibited, if all parties must consent to being filmed, and how long body camera footage must be stored.
The main issues surrounding the laws and regulations are disseminating footage and making it available to the public. Of course, there are certain circumstances where agencies cannot post everything they have recorded, as it would either encroach on the privacy of the individual being filmed or may leak confidential material that is important to the safety and security of the public and the station. As such, much of the footage cannot be released unless it is for specified statutory purposes.
The need for body cameras on police officers has arisen because of the public outcry about the conduct of all officers. While this may seem like a move that is a direct result of public action, wearing body cameras also protects the officers from allegations against them. It also holds them to a higher professional standard, especially if the law enforcement unit must draw their weapons.
Ideal situations rarely occur, and some leeway must be given. For example, New Jersey and South Carolina implement the law on the contingency that the legislature funds programs. This means capital allocation must be moved around or raised to fund these initiatives properly.
News outlets have criticized the conduct of police officers, both in terms of their response speed and ability to make difficult choices when faced with an angry, scared, or innocent civilian in recent years. Namely, the public outcry about such events as BLM and school shootings has sparked a debate about gun laws, police efficacy, and the need to hold officers accountable for their profession and duty. In response to civilian videos being populated over the internet, states seriously consider mandates so law enforcement officers can share their stories.