TOPEKA (CAPITOL BUREAU) – The issue of how soon police body camera videos should be released is now headed for debate in the Kansas House. However, it isn't moving forward without changes.
It was the controversy over the body camera video from the Dominique White case that renewed the debate over how long it should take police departments to release body camera video to the families of those involved.
White was shot and killed by Topeka police in September. However it took four months for his family to gain access to view the video.
House Bill 2571 requires law enforcement agencies to release body camera video in deadly or excessive force investigations to families within 20 days.
"You don't lose trust in law enforcement, it doesn't put the city or municipality in a situation of unrest, and I think it's information that should be put out for families," explained State Rep. John Alcala, D-Topeka.
The bill, which has passed out of committee, leaves the decision up to individual departments, for when to release the video to the public.
"This is what the parties could agree on and then we can let them kind of work in more depth when they're not under the timeline pressures of the legislative session," said State Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa.
The bill also allows parents to become heirs in order to view the body camera video, which wasn't the case for the White family.
"In the White case the parents had to go and become executors of the estate for Dominique White because his heirs were minor children," added Alcala.
While the final bill heading to the floor doesn't include all the changes Rep. Alcala had hoped for, he says it's a step in the right direction.
"Any part of transparency that we can get out and change is good," he said.
The House is expected to debate the bill later this week.
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