Body-worn cameras and Senate Bill 560

How a new Pennsylvania policy removes video and audio legal hurdles

While body-worn cameras have become a crucial device for law enforcement agencies across the country, most agencies in Pennsylvania haven’t adopted this technology due to previous state wiretap laws.

These laws are no longer applicable under the new Senate Bill 560. With these new statewide policies, body-worn cameras can be used to help increase officer accountability without fear of breaking the law.

About Senate Bill 560

Pennsylvania’s new policy exempts police audio and video recordings from its public-records law – giving agencies broad discretion over when to refuse footage requests. In an effort to address concerns about violating the state’s surveillance law, the new bill:

  • Clarifies that officers can gather body-camera footage inside a private residence while on duty.
  • Permits uniformed officers to legally record any conversation, without warning, while using a state police-approved device in public.
  • Sets a 60-day limit for footage requests following an incident.
  • Prevents public access to recordings made inside a law enforcement facility.
  • Places grounds for a footage-request denial if evidence in a criminal/administrative investigation, or if an informant/victim’s identity, cannot be removed or obscured. (A court could still order the release of such footage in the case of a denial.)

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