New law forces Clarksville police to stop using body cameras - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New law forces Clarksville police to stop using body cameras

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CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- The Clarksville Police Department will discontinue its use of body cameras, citing a lack of funding due to a new law.

House Bill 1019 will go into effect July 1 and, according to Clarksville Town Council president Paul Fetter, its new guidelines for police body cameras will prevent the police department from continuing the program.

“What it mandates is the use of the cameras, the storage of the footage they collect and the dispensing of the information that is given out,” Fetter said.

The bill adds new procedures that all departments using body cameras have to follow. The law requires all departments to keep camera footage for 190 days.

It also forces departments to blur the faces of victims, witnesses and juveniles. Fetter says the increased cost to add storage and staff to be in compliance could cost upwards of $300,000.

“I don't believe that there is a funding solution by July 1,” Fetter said. “I'd hoped the governor would veto the bill and allow senators to come back with a bill that local police could be involved in.”

Back in 2012, Clarksville was one of the first police departments in Indiana to begin using body cameras.

“It was the innovation of Chief (Mark) Palmer that brought them here to Southern Indiana,” Fetter said. “His use and storage and implementation was the model for many other departments.”

Palmer declined to be interviewed for this story.

“Now that we're using them and have a good plan in place to store information and release information, we're getting regulations that say we can't continue to do it the way we're doing it,” Fetter said.

Jeffersonville Police is still in the process of implementing its body camera program, but says the new law won’t stop it from proceeding. New Albany Police do not use body camera technology.

“I'm not saying that's the end of us using them,” Fetter said.  “We're going to try and find a way to use them.”

He says he’s reached out to local and state lawmakers about different funding sources but for now, on July 1, the cameras will no longer be used.

“It's frustrating because it's a step backward,” Fetter said. 

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