Bill passes Idaho house that would change how long counties keep body camera footage
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BOISE — The Idaho House passed a bill that would allow county law enforcement to destroy body camera footage within a shorter amount of time.
By a 63 to three vote, HB 499 advanced to the Idaho Senate. The bill amends existing law that requires all counties to keep video and audio recordings, including body cam footage, for a minimum of two years.
“Just know that I only carried it after it was introduced and passed in committee,” the bill’s sponsor Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) told EastIdahoNews.com. “But I was happy to do so as we’ve examined the intent behind it for awhile at the city level.”
The bill allows counties to destroy recordings after 200 days if they contain evidentiary value. Body cam footage that does not contain evidentiary value can be destroyed after 60 days. Law enforcement security camera footage that does not have evidentiary value can be destroyed after just 14 days.
The bill defines “evidentiary value” as any recording of use of force by a government agency; any events leading up to and including an arrest or citation for a criminal offense; any events that constitute a criminal offense; any encounter about which a complaint has been filed by a subject, or his representative, of the law enforcement media recording; or any encounter about which a valid public records request has been filed by a subject, or his representative, of the law enforcement media recording.
According to the bill’s statement of purpose, storing body camera footage costs $1,000 per year per employee. It says reducing the amount of time that data is stored will save counties money
Rep. Neil Anderson (R-Blackfoot) said he voted against the bill because he doesn’t believe two weeks is enough time to keep that kind of footage.
“I think we need to keep it longer than that, in the event that it is needed,” Anderson told EastIdahoNews.com. “Even if we keep it for 30 days.”
Anderson is one of three representatives who voted against the bill.
When a public records request is made, including for recorded video, government agencies have a maximum of 10 business days to respond, according to Idaho’s public records law. After 10 business days without a response, it is presumed the request has been denied.
According to the bill, if a “valid” public records request is filed, a recording is given evidentiary value. Once the recording has evidentiary value, it cannot be destroyed until after 200 days.
The bill does not state what “valid” public records request is.