Mahan: Technology for law enforcement

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, January 22, 2016 2:26 pm

Technology for law enforcement 

This session, one of my main priorities is providing protection for our police officers and those they serve. One particular piece of legislation, House Bill (HB) 1019, creates guidelines for the use of body cameras and other technology in law enforcement agencies. Through the Interim Study Committee on Government that met last summer, and from talking to different groups and organizations, I have learned a lot about body cameras and their impact on local communities. My goal is to implement this new technology in a manner that emphasizes the rights of transparency for the public while maintaining privacy rights. 

Let me be clear, this legislation does not mandate police and sheriff departments throughout the state of Indiana to use body cameras. Instead, it attempts to provide clear guidelines for these agencies choosing to incorporate body cameras and other technology in their departments. 

In order to better serve the public, these guidelines are necessary. When a member of the public or the media requests clips from a law enforcement recording, it is crucial to limit some access to protect those involved. As a former sheriff, I know firsthand what police officers experience, and I understand the pressures placed on an officer of the law. I have seen what law enforcement officer’s witness when on the job, and that is why this legislation limits access to some recordings — to protect the community. While these recordings can be helpful in criminal investigations, they could be potentially harmful for victims of crimes. To ensure that these recordings will not cause harm to any individual or the general public, and to not create a prejudicial effect on ongoing civil or criminal proceedings, law enforcement agencies will need to fully vet the situation before releasing recordings to the public. However, if a member of the community feels that a recording serves the public interest, he or she may petition the court to inspect or receive a copy of a clip.  

Of course, this is a big responsibility placed on police and sheriff departments, but I feel that these restrictions, if put in place, would create a better relationship between the public and law enforcement. 

One of my main goals this session is to prepare those that will be protecting Hoosiers, to be aware and knowledgeable of issues pertaining to their communities, while also protecting the privacy of innocent Hoosiers. HB 1019 will now be considered by the entire House. You can find information on this legislation and others by visiting www.iga.in.gov. I am always open to your thoughts and opinions, and I encourage anyone who has a question to ask by calling 317-223-9509 or emailing h31@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.