February 28, 2020 Governor Tony Evers signed Senate Bill 50 into law. The bill governs the use of body cameras by police agencies. Under Senate Bill 50 if a law enforcement agency uses a body camera on a law enforcement officer, the law enforcement agency must administer a written policy regarding their use of body camera footage. In addition, the bill requires, subject to certain exceptions, that if body camera footage is used by a law enforcement agency, it must be stored for 120 days. The bill does not require all law enforcement agencies to equip their officers with body cameras. The bill received bipartisan support.
In drunk driving cases, dash and body camera footage is extremely valuable evidence. It permits the defendant to fairly evaluate and cross examine the arresting officer’s assertions regarding the defendant’s level of impairment. It is much more difficult to attack the officer’s conclusions without the objectivity that a video provides. Many law enforcement agencies claim that the cost of body and dash cameras is prohibitive. As technology, particularly the storage of data, becomes more inexpensive hopefully more law enforcement agencies adopt the use of such devices.