Body camera bill has ACLU, Nevada law enforcement on same page

Updated May 11, 2017 - 4:51 pm

CARSON CITY — The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the ACLU of Nevada are seldom in agreement.

Thursday, however, the organizations were on the same page. The Assembly Government Affairs Committee heard Senate Bill 176, which would create a framework all Nevada police officers to be equipped with body-worn cameras while on duty.

Holly Welborn of the ACLU of Nevada called it “quintessential compromise legislation.”

Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford and others, the legislation would expand a 2015 law that mandates the requirement on the Nevada Highway Patrol to all agencies in the state.

“It’s a good bill,” said Ford, D-Las Vegas. “It’s going to protect the public and it’s going to protect cops from frivolous complaints.”

The bill allows counties to increase the maximum allowable monthly surcharge on telecommunications systems from 25 cents to a maximum of $1. The fee is used to finance emergency 911 systems, but the bill allows the fees to also be used for body cameras and police dash cams and costs of maintaining them and storing the data.

Metro already has equips officers with body cameras.

Chuck Callaway, a lobbyist for the police department, said Metro has seen more than 100 cases of officers exonerated by body camera footage. The footage has also been used to corroborate accusations of officer misconduct.

“It’s a win-win,” he said. “It protects the officer and it protects the public.”

Welborn praised Metro’s system and said the bill is a good first step toward bringing that model statewide and making Nevada a national model.

If passed, the bill would become law on July 1, 2018.

Representatives of Henderson, Mesquite and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office all supported the measure.

The committee took not action on the bill, which has passed the Senate with a 20-1 vote.

Contact Ben Botkin at or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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