Study Committee Update: Body Cameras Committee Discusses Retention of Records, Privacy Issues

The Study Committee on the Use of Police Body Cameras met for the second time on Sept. 13. The focus of the meeting was to receive some additional presentations and spend time discussing the committee’s assignment and next steps.

The meeting began with a presentation from the Milwaukee Police Department. Sergeant Doug Wiorek outlined the path the city took to implement body cameras and provided an overview of the 1,100-plus body camera program in Milwaukee. Wiorek showed the committee the various body camera mounts currently utilized and discussed the sizable budget implications for the program, including the equipment, storage and administration. Committee members asked the Sergeant about Milwaukee’s body camera policy regarding retention of data, privacy, and the handling of open records requests.

Following the Milwaukee Police Department presentation, Heath Straka, the President of the Wisconsin Association of Justice presented. The focus of his statement was on the access and retention of body camera footage. He urged the committee to consider the need for open access to body camera footage and consider retention requirements for no shorter than 120 days.

The committee spent the remainder of the meeting discussing their assignment and how best to proceed. This included a discussion regarding law enforcement body camera policies – and what should be prescribed in legislation and what should be determined by the local law enforcement agency. In addition, the committee examined the retention requirements and how to balance the retention of records with the cost and administrative burdens that come with long retention periods. The committee continued to examine how to deal with the release of body camera footage, while considering the privacy of individuals on the footage.

The committee will meet again on Oct. 17, most likely to review a legislative proposal.

Committee members and documents

Summary of the first meeting