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Alabama Bill Would Set Guidelines On Release Of Recorded Police Videos

Written by on April 19, 2019

A bill filed by State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D – Birmingham) would make recorded police videos, such as those recorded by body cams, not part of the public record. The bill would, however, allow a person to petition a circuit court in order to obtain access to portions of a video that involve themselves.

HB 36 Breakdown

HB 36 has a stated goal of the following:

  • This bill would provide that recordings made by law enforcement agencies are not public records.
  • This bill would establish a procedure to determine whether, to whom, and what portions of a recording may be disclosed or a copy released.
  • This bill would establish the procedure for contesting a refusal to disclose a recording or to obtain a copy of a recording.
  • This bill would direct state or local law enforcement agencies to provide, upon request, access to view and analyze recordings.

The bill offers a way for a person who is in the video to request the release of the video. If the request is denied, the person would be able to petition a circuit court in any county where any portion of the video was made. The court will then determine whether or not to release the video based on the following criteria:

  • The release is necessary to advance a compelling public interest.
  • The recording contains information that is otherwise confidential or exempt from disclosure or release under state or federal law.
  • The person requesting release is seeking to obtain evidence to determine legal issues in a current or potential court proceeding.
  • The release would reveal information that is of a highly sensitive nature to a person.
  • The release may harm the reputation or jeopardize the safety of a person.
  • The release would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice.
  • Confidentiality is necessary to protect either an active or inactive internal or criminal investigation or potential internal or criminal investigation. 
  • There is good cause shown to release all portions of the recording. 

Alabama recently was put in the national spotlight after a police officer in Hoover shot and killed EJ Bradford. The family is currently suing for the release of video related to the shooting. This bill could have given a path to having all or portions of the video released to them.

The bill has been referred to the House of Representatives committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. You can read the full text of the bill here.

This bill failed to make it out of committee.

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