MILWAUKEE (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill Friday guaranteeing public access to most police body camera footage.
Officer-involved shootings around the country have spurred a national push to force police to wear body cameras to help determine the circumstances. Such video can end speculation about an officer’s actions, potentially sparking or quelling public outrage.
The bill doesn’t require police to use body cameras but it does declare that any footage is generally available to the public under Wisconsin’s open records law. The measure does carve out some exceptions, however. Footage of minors, victims of sensitive or violent crimes and people in places where they would have a reasonable expectation of privacy would be sealed unless a department feels the public interest outweighs such exemptions. If a department chooses to release such footage it would be allowed to blur or conceal the subject’s face or anything else that might identify him or her.
Departments would have to retain all footage for at least 120 days. Footage of deaths, injuries, arrests, searches and the use of force would have to be retained until the investigation or case is resolved.