By Rich Williams
With Wednesday's enactment of Senate Bill 47, South Carolina became the first state to require all law enforcement agencies in their state to use body-worn cameras.
At the signing ceremony, Senator Gerald Malloy (D), the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation is important because body cameras “protect officers, protect citizens and protect the truth.”
The new law also establishes a “Body-Worn Cameras Fund” to assist police with the costs of buying, operating and maintaining all necessary equipment. It further stipulates that police departments are not required to implement their programs until they receive the necessary state funding. Additional provisions under the law require the creation of guidelines and operational procedures for body-camera use and set standards for who may request and access data generated by the cameras.
Seven other states this year have enacted new laws addressing body-worn cameras, and the legislatures in Illinois, Nevada and Texas have passed bills that are currently with their respective governors.
To learn more about body-worn camera legislation and policies, visit NCSL’s law enforcement webpage or attend NCSL’s Legislative Summit, Aug. 2-6 in Seattle, Wash. The session addressing body-worn camera issues is from 2 to 3:15 p.m. Aug. 4 and features Michael Wagers, chief operating officer of the Seattle Police Department.
Also, check out the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Body-Worn Camera Toolkit and NCSL's video webinar, Body-Worn Cameras for Police.
Rich Williams is a policy specialist in NCSL's Criminal Justice program.