Kansas seeks to ban public from ever viewing police body cam footage

In August of 2014, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer promised an auditorium filled with angry citizens that the Wichita Police Department would equip every officer on the force with a body camera by the end of that year. Very quickly, that promise was amended to say that every officer would be equipped by the end of this year, 2015.

State legislators, understanding the public’s demand for these cameras, introduced bills to place cameras on every officer in the state, and now that legislation is being watered down with a proposal that would ban the public from ever being able to view the footage from those cameras.

If passed, this legislation would only allow subjects captured in the footage, and their attorneys to view the camera footage. The City of Wichita, after years of ignoring pleas from activists and victims, is finally in the process of forming a Citizen Advisory Board and a Citizen Review Board to examine allegations of police misconduct. Under this bill, these boards would not have access to police body camera footage.

Wichita activists have threatened to form civilian brigades to monitor police activity with privately-owned camera equipment if this bill is passed.

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