Proposed Bill Could Make It A Felony If Cop Forgets To Turn On Bodycam

State Rep. G.A. Hardaway and State Sen. Sara Kyle said an officer who forgets to turn on his bodycam should serve time.

Nashville, TN – A state lawmaker has introduced legislation that would make it a felony for police officers to turn off – or forget to turn on – their bodycams.

“We want them to know that we're serious about justice,” Democratic Tennessee State Representative G.A. Hardaway told WMC.

“It is an offense for a law enforcement officer, with the intent to obstruct justice, to turn off, disable, fail to turn on, or operate a law enforcement recording device, including a law enforcement body camera, in any manner that prevents the creation of evidence,” reads the new bill.

Hardaway tried to frame his proposed legislation as a good thing for police, according to WMC.

“It needs to be in the section that deals with recording devices so the police officers know what the law is pertaining to these recording devices some officers don't even know what the level of prosecution is for intentionally interfering with those devices,” Hardaway said.

Under current law, a police officer determined to have intentionally turned off his bodycam could be charged with a Class C felony for tampering with evidence, WMC reported.

A Class C felony carries a sentence of four to six years.

Hardaway’s legislation – House Bill 1475 – would make turning off, or failing to turn on, a bodycam a Class E felony, which carries a sentence of one to two years, according to WMC.

Current law doesn’t criminalize an officer’s failure to turn on their bodycam; however, an officer may face administrative sanctions.

Memphis Police Association Treasurer Matt Cunningham said the proposed legislation creates even more pressure for officers already in high-pressure situations where they have only split seconds to think and make decisions, according to WTVT.

Cunningham said it’s the word “intent” in the legislation that makes it questionable.

“You got that catch-clause in there. We feel that’s a pretty slippery slope, defining what intent to obstruct justice means,” Cunningham told WTVT. “Police officers do a job where transparency is vital, but officers have umpteen things to think about during an encounter.”

Democratic Tennessee State Senator Sara Kyle filed the companion bill – Senate Bill 1321 -in her chamber on Feb. 7.

Hardaway and Kyle’s bills have been sent to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, respectively, for further consideration.

Comments (34)
No. 1-26
Dangerdoug
Dangerdoug

So, let's go after police officers and NOT the criminals. Unfricking believable that law makers think putting more of a burden and possibility of prison time on police officers is a good idea.

Trueferblue
Trueferblue

And when the body cam shows a situation which doesn't fit their narative, they try to claim it was edited or something.

Ghost31289
Ghost31289

Man, there’s not going to be many cops left to patrol the streets when they’re all serving time for forgetting to turn on a camera or failing to give a suspect multiple phone calls within 30 mins of an arrest or for some other ridiculous legislation.

JBo
JBo

I don't think he needs to worry that cops won't turn on body cams...they've turned out to be the best thing since sliced bread for cops. There have been a huge number of cops saved by body cams against false charges and claims made by certain segments of the population.

Bob H
Bob H

Why would any sane person want to be a police officer in this day and age. Their is more scrutiny and threats against them than criminal now.

ManBearPig
ManBearPig

Cops will still find a way around it with no discipline. They already lie to us when there is video telling us we didnt see something. Fuck these crooked ass cops

Shastabeau
Shastabeau

Hardaway and Kyle are complete idiots!

Shastabeau
Shastabeau

Got arrested again?

LEO0301
LEO0301

I wonder why so many agencies across this country are having difficulties finding anyone willing to wear a badge. Keep electing idiots and suffer the consequences.

LEO0301
LEO0301

I think I could go along with this bill if they agreed to a similar law as being proposed in Illinois, with the same conditions as they are asking of our police officers. Don't turn on that body camera mister politician, well off to jail you go.

LEO0301
LEO0301

Oh, and one more thing, a bow ties does not, I repeat, does not make you look smart. It just doesn't....

61mouse
61mouse

ROFLMFAO

yelyana
yelyana

I can see the scenario now. Officer pull up to a life & death situation. Jumps out of his/her car to get to the scene. Stops and says, "Oh, wait a minute, I have to check to be sure that I turned my video taping device on." Yes, lets just make their already dangerous job more dangerous and difficult. Heaven help us!

UhO5O
UhO5O

I would love for there to be a simulator these people had to qualify as capable through that depicted pursuits, critical responses, shootout situations, etc. It would probably be hilarious how many would fail and not just for never even thinking of their body cam. True colours would definitely be showing if they really got involved in scenarios. A lot of apologies would have to be given for the words uttered in the heat of battle. It's stupid in it's entirety how it has become. So many people look at being a peace officer as just a job.. it is so much more than that! Not many of us would risk not coming home to our families for just a job! And anyway forgetting to do something is human! If being human is a felony most of us are guilty. I say most bc some really don't qualify for humans. OK rant over. God Bless and have a safe and beautiful day!

tfort
tfort

Here is an idea: don’t turn your body camera off.

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

Because just ONE MORE LAW will fix everything. This guy is an asshole.

Ljubica48
Ljubica48

The KISS principle dictates that the cameras are going to have to be locked in the ON position. Officers do not need another distraction when encountering whatever threat they might have to deal with. Officers never know when the SHTF is going to happen, unlike the prescient dipshidiots like some Tennessee legislators.

Old Hawg
Old Hawg

Those two asshats should be required to wear body cameras while they're at work and the recordings made available to their constituents. I doubt either one of them would be re-elected.

61mouse
61mouse

I think all politicians should this asshole being the first

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

I think that civil liability law, rather than criminal law, should strongly incentivize LEOs to have running bodycams any time they are carrying a weapon in public. If the situation is dangerous enough to need to be carrying a gun then it is dangerous enough to have that camera rolling. That way, if the policeman wants to not video his shift, he can simply lock up all his firearms in the safe at the stationhouse.

Thinblueline
Thinblueline

Stupid fucking politicians.

HAWAIIBLUE
HAWAIIBLUE

In my humble opinion, why should it be a crime when it’s the departments option to run body cams anyway. It shouldn’t be more than violating department policy. Like any other tool that the Officer has, such as, baton, flashlight, radio, handcuffs, etc, it is a tool to perform duties. Officers already have to worry about all of those things, and turn on their body cams or they will face policy/admin violations. NOT criminal charges, or let alone a FELONY!? give me a break.

PD1736
PD1736

Time to stop using body cams.

Det_John_Kimble
Det_John_Kimble

OK fine, and lets make all politicians and bureaucrats all wear body cams as well and apply the same felony when they fail to turn them on.

Keagan Thomas
Keagan Thomas

Well If this passes, Black people and Black Lives Matter, cant lie and make 10 million dollars of some stupid lies. So yeah, it shouldn't be a felony tho.

Stanracer
Stanracer

With the amount of lying by BLM and BLM supporters out there, all LEO's should have their bodycams on at all times to protect themselves.