Bill aims to make police departments more transparent

Tuesday Senator Greg Hembree introduced legislation to make changes to the Freedom of Information Act that would make dashcam video of officer-involved shootings public information.

Currently it’s challenging for the public and the media to get copies of dashcam video.  It often requires a court order when investigators won’t turn it over.

The News 2 I-team has requested video of two officer involved shootings in the last year, but we have yet to receive the video.

Since August the I-Team has made multiple requests for the incident involving Christian Joshua Olivencia, 29, and the North Charleston Police Department.  Olivencia died from “a fatal wound to the head which is consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” according to the Coroner.  He died following a shootout with police.

Taylor Robert Johnson, 23, faces with two counts of attempted murder after an encounter with Summerville Police.

Authorities say on February 1 there was an officer involved shooting on West Richardson Avenue near Old Postern Road after Johnson tried to flee a drivers’ license checkpoint.

Senator Hembree’s bill would change the process currently in place and require a law enforcement agency to petition a court to restrict release of these dashcam videos.  A similar proposal was offered last year, but was unable to come out of conference.

“The impact of officer-involved shootings on our communities is far too important and the presumption to release the video should be in the favor of the public. This new proposal to the Freedom of Information Act is with the community in mind so that clear information may be provided to the public as quickly as possible,” Senator Hembree, Horry County,  said.

Additionally, a provision would be included to protect the release of dying declarations unless waived by the victim’s next of kin, and allows restriction of release of additional materials if certain circumstances exist.

 

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