As a Maryland resident, I oppose prohibiting police departments from disclosing body-worn camera (BWC) footage of incidents that depict the death of a law enforcement officer in the performance of their duties. SB 40 has a provision that does exactly that. The bill passed the Senate on March 13th and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. As my Delegate, if the bill comes up for consideration on the House floor, I urge you to remove that provision from SB 40.
I understand that this provision is intended to protect the families of the officers from the (very real) trauma of having the footage publicly disclosed. But this is equally true for the families of people killed by police, not just the families of police officers. Restricting access to this footage goes against the General Assembly’s declared commitment to the equal sanctity of ALL lives, without prioritizing the lives of law enforcement officers over the lives of the public that they serve.
And, equally importantly, cases involving the death of a police officer are often ones in which there is significant, and legitimate, public interest. For example, officers have, tragically, been repeatedly killed by fellow officers (often when the deceased officer was not in uniform). Prohibiting BWC video from being released does not take into account the tremendous public interest in having as clear a view as possible of the events that lead to the shooting.
We cannot allow SB 40 to limit access to information that is of public interest. Please remove the provision from SB 40. Vote "No" on SB 40, or make it permissive, rather than mandatory.