Palmetto Sunrise: Body camera proposal meets key deadline, heads to House

Body cameras like this one worn by a Summerville officer would be worn by cops across the state under a Senate measure passed Wednesday. Grace Beahm/Staff

A proposal to make cops in South Carolina wear body cameras still has a shot at becoming law this year, since the Senate passed it in time to meet a key procedural deadline.

But the bill will still have to make it through the House, where a panel last week opted for a more measured approach. The House Judiciary Committee voted for a pilot program instead of an outright requirement that cops wear cameras.

The House has until the end of the session — June 4 — to pass the bill if it’s to become law before next year.

Body cameras raise plenty of controversial issues, like cost and privacy. The Senate’s debate Wednesday focused on finding a balance between protecting privacy and promoting transparency.

Senators eventually erred toward privacy, limiting the public’s access to body camera recordings and rejecting a compromise struck earlier by civil rights activists, open records advocates and law enforcement officials. The public and the press would only be able to see recordings in limited cases under the Senate measure.

But where lawmakers draw the line between the public’s rights to information and to privacy could be revisited as it moves to House consideration.

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