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Nebraska lawmakers hear bill that could make police bodycam footage more accessible

The Nebraska legislature in session.
The Nebraska legislature in session.(KSNB)
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 4:24 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A proposal before Nebraska lawmakers would make police bodycam videos more accessible to the public when it comes to in-custody death cases.

There are a number of people who don’t think that’s such a good idea.

All Omaha Police officers now wear body cameras. Every now and then the police chief will allow images to be released early in an investigation to make a point.

Sometimes it’s to set the scene, sometimes to highlight what he believes is a justified shooting. But the release of Omaha body cam footage is rare.

Today the government affairs committee heard a bill that would make it easier to get.

“In my view, this is of vital importance,” said State Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln. “Recently, we’ve seen a death connected to law enforcement spike the height of mistrust in government. Making a video available could help ease concern by providing a specific and accurate account of what happened. "

The Omaha Police Department argued that the release of the footage too early in a case would taint a grand jury.

Omaha Police Capt. Steve Cerveny said, “Not only is the sanctity of the grand jury possibly violated by this idea, but the investigation would be compromised. Police and prosecutors need to maintain privacy to verify witness and suspect statements.”

This bill would also make it easier and more cost-effective for Nebraskans to obtain public records and put in more requirements for out-of-state companies trying to make a buck off of Nebraska data.

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