“Nearly six years after Arkansas police Officer Jonathan Schmidt was shot to death while pleading for his life,” policeone.com reports, “a dashcam video of his final moments still circulates on the internet — sometimes landing in the social media feeds of his family members. ‘It’s a very sacred thing,’ the officer’s widow, Andrea Schmidt, said. ‘It’s not just a cop getting killed. This is a human being. This is my husband. This is a father.'”
Based on the video, Republican Arkansas state Rep. Jimmy Gazaway — the prosecutor who put Officer Schmidt’s killer in jail — introduced House Bill 1236.
The law would prohibit “the broad release of material showing officers dying in the line of duty.”
Any such video would only be released to the general public if there’s a public interest. Even then it would only be shown in a public setting, not released to the media and, inevitably, posted on YouTube. According to the bill’s text:
Absent a compelling public interest, or the necessity to evaluate a law enforcement officer’s conduct, or an official purpose such as a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding or an official investigation into a law enforcement officer’s death, the disclosure of an audio or visual depiction of the death of a law enforcement officer would have little value to the public other than to satisfy a morbid curiosity concerning the death of a law enforcement officer.
The bill passed the Arkansas House by a margin of 94-0. The Arkansas senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill. It’s expected to pass in the senate as a whole and land on the Governor’s desk shortly.
What’s your take? Should the public have unlimited access to all police dashcam and bodycam videos? Or should the suffering of survivors govern a judge’s decision on the video’s release?