Nevada Legislature: Bill requiring body cameras for police draws support

On-duty police officers throughout Nevada would be required to wear a portable body camera if a bill sponsored by several Republican and Democratic lawmakers passes the Legislature.

In its current form, the bill would create a significant financial burden for police departments. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which launched a pilot program for body cameras in November, estimated the mandate would cost $9.2 million to implement.

Las Vegas police lobbyist Chuck Callaway on Monday submitted a widely supported amendment, which would change the requirement to a recommendation for agencies to begin developing policies on officer body cameras. It would also limit cameras to only uniformed police officers and exclude undercover or administrative officers from wearing the devices.

The amendment would allow for additional flexibility in filming and limit public access to recorded videos due to privacy concerns.

Police groups, including Las Vegas Police Protective Association lobbyist Chris Collins, supported the amendment and said it would be an efficient first step in developing a system that could benefit residents and officers.

“The camera is simply the next evolution in police work,” Collins said during the bill’s hearing Monday in the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs.

Assemblyman John Ellison, the Republican committee chairman, said the size of the unfunded mandate would make it difficult for the bill to pass but allowing more flexibility would help the bill “get a foot in the door.”

Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Munford, who testified Monday, is the primary sponsor of Assembly Bill 162. It also is sponsored by Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, who called the bill “a good idea” but also supported the amendment.

No opponents testified during the hearing, though American Civil Liberties Union lobbyist Vanessa Spinazola proposed an amendment asking for additional privacy protections for crowds and private homes.

Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, are sponsoring a similar bill requiring police in Washoe and Clark counties to wear body cameras.

Ford said the bill originated partially to avoid tension and conflict similar to outrage over the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Munford said he agreed with the concept of the amendments and would likely add them to the bill.

“I can sense there’s almost a consensus on the merit of this bill,” he said during the hearing. “We all know the value, the importance of it.”


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