Photo Credit: Axon
Published March 3, 2021
New Tennessee Legislation, Proposed By Representative Glen Casada And Senator Jack Johnson, Would Make All Police Videos Of An Arrested Individual Confidential. The Current Law On Public Records Makes These Videos Available To Anyone Who Wants Access, But This Legislation Would Add An Amendment To That Law.
Current public record law states, “All state, county and municipal records shall at all times during business hours be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of such records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen unless otherwise provided by state law.”
Under this law, Tennesseans can access police footage of any arrested and detained individuals. This also allows them to find other information, such as a home address and telephone number.
The proposed HB 910 bill by Casada and Johnson would make the video footage and other information confidential. This includes footage from dashcams, body cams, security footage, and any other video gathered by law enforcement.
The proposed bill says, “Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, personal identifying information compiled by and in the possession of municipal and county law enforcement agencies and detention facilities concerning any person who has been arrested or charged, but not convicted, of any offense is confidential. This subsection does not apply to any person who is arrested or charged for a parole or probation violation during the term of a suspended or deferred sentence.”
The bill goes on to state, “as used in this subsection, “personal identifying information” means the home street address, excluding the name of the city or zip code. “Personal identifying information” also means the personal telephone number, video, and social security number of the person.”
As the public record law stands now, this type of information is only kept confidential if it is relevant to an ongoing investigation. If passed, the new bill would keep this information confidential no matter what the status is of an investigation or current case. It would only be released if someone was later convicted of a crime. At that point, the information would be available to any Tennesseans who sought it out.
Any Tennessee resident who wants to access public records can easily do so through the Tennessee Public Records website.
“This website allows Tennessee residents to access this information in accordance with the Tennessee Open Records Act, which specifies that all government information and records are available to the public,” The site explains. “The goal of this website is to allow Tennessee state citizens access to Tennessee state public records easily, efficiently, and concisely, without requiring a reason for needing the information, or revealing any personal information, providing requested record is not confidential.”
These records “contain information about criminal records, court records, vital records, and over 55 million additional transparent public records.”
If the new HB 910 bill passes many of these criminal and court records would be deemed confidential, and no longer allow public access. The bill will be heard by the House Public Service Subcommittee at their meeting on Wednesday, March 3.