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Ohio Lawmakers Introduce a Bill Setting Public Records Access Rules for Police Body Camera Footage

The emergence of police body cameras has caused several communities to resolve their own questions about what is and is not public record. Lawmakers are introducing a bipartisan bill to provide a final answer.

The bill creates several exceptions to public records laws for body cameras, such as if the video shows inside a private home, private business, or shows the victim of a sex crime.

Republican Rep. Niraj Antani says body cameras are too new to have solid footing as far as public records are concerned.

“Right now, it’s pretty much up to interpretation. And it would ...  make it through the courts and then the courts would get to decide what it is (public record). I think that it’s not up to the courts, it’s up to the Legislature,” says Antani.

Antani says any adverse police action, such as a police-involved shooting, automatically makes that video a public record.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.