Body Camera Legislation By State: All You Need To Know When Implementing a Program

The use of Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) by police in the USA is legislated on a state-by-state basis. For this reason, any department looking to implement a BWC program needs to know where they stand in relation to local laws. 

For your reference, below you will find a state-by-state breakdown of BWC legislation, summarized into six broad categories.

Please note that this list refers to state-wide legislation, as opposed to individual departments. So, for example, the NYPD has rolled out body cameras to all patrol officers and has created standardized policies for when they must be used. There is also a trial program in place for some New York state troopers. However, New York State does not currently have any universal, statewide BWC legislation in place.

TYPES OF LEGISLATION

For the states that implement it, BWC legislation can generally be divided into six broad categories:

Requirement To Wear Body Cameras – To date, seven states now mandate the statewide use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers.

Body Camera Funding – Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have legislated funding opportunities for state and local police departments to purchase body camera equipment, hire new support staff and operate or purchase data systems.

Open Records Laws – Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legislated how body-worn camera data is addressed under open record laws.

Eavesdropping Laws – Seven states have made exceptions to their eavesdropping laws for police officers wearing body cameras while in the performance of their duties.

Written Camera Policies – Nineteen states and the District of Columbia require written policies in order for law enforcement to use or receive funding for body-worn cameras.

BWC Studies – Ten states and the District of Columbia have authorized pilot programs or charged workgroups or agencies with studying body-worn cameras.

STATE-BY-STATE

Stealthstat II

Alabama – No BWC legislation.

Alaska – No BWC legislation.

Arizona – BWC Studies.

Arkansas – No BWC legislation.

California – Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Eavesdropping Laws, Written Camera Policies, BWC Studies.

Colorado – Requirement To Wear Body Cameras (pending, 2023), Body Camera Funding, BWC Studies.

Connecticut – Requirement To Wear Body Cameras, Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies, BWC Studies.

Delaware – Written Camera Policies.

District of Columbia – Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies, BWC Studies.

Florida – Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies.

Georgia – Open Records Laws, Eavesdropping Laws.

Hawaii – No BWC legislation.

Idaho – No BWC legislation.

Illinois – Requirement To Wear Body Cameras, Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Eavesdropping Laws, Written Camera Policies.

Indiana – Open Records Laws.

Iowa – No BWC legislation.

Kansas – Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws.

Kentucky – Written Camera Policies.

Louisiana – Open Records Laws, BWC Studies.

Maine – No BWC legislation.

Maryland – Requirement To Wear Body Cameras, Written Camera Policies, BWC Studies.

Massachusetts – Body Camera Funding, BWC Studies.

Michigan – Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies.

Minnesota – Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies.

Mississippi – No BWC legislation.

Missouri – No BWC legislation.

Montana – Open Records Laws.

.

Nebraska – Written Camera Policies.

Nevada – Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Eavesdropping Laws, Written Camera Policies.

New Hampshire – Open Records Laws, Eavesdropping Laws, Written Camera Policies.

New Jersey – Requirement To Wear Body Cameras, Body Camera Funding.

New Mexico – Requirement To Wear Body Cameras, No BWC legislation.

New York – No BWC legislation.

North Carolina – Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies.

North Dakota – Open Records Laws.

Ohio – No BWC legislation.

Oklahoma – Open Records Laws.

Oregon – Open Records Laws, Eavesdropping Laws, Written Camera Policies.

Pennsylvania – Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Eavesdropping Laws, Written Camera Policies.

Rhode Island – No BWC legislation.

South Carolina – Requirement To Wear Body Cameras, Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies, BWC Studies.

South Dakota – No BWC legislation.

Tennessee – Open Records Laws.

Texas – Body Camera Funding, Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies.

Utah – Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies.

Vermont – BWC Studies.

Virginia – No BWC legislation.

Washington – Open Records Laws, Written Camera Policies, BWC Studies.

West Virginia – No BWC legislation.

Wisconsin – No BWC legislation.

Wyoming – No BWC legislation.

This article was brought to you by Kustom Signals, a leading provider of body cameras for law enforcement.

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