All police officers in Nevada must wear body cameras beginning next year under a bill Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Thursday, becoming the second state to respond to calls for transparency of violent police encounters with a camera mandate for beat officers statewide.
The law makes audio-visual recording devices a standard feature of uniforms for any law enforcement officer who routinely interacts with the public — from contracted town marshals to the 2,600 officers at Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which has been phasing in body cameras since 2014.
The proposal, led by six black lawmakers, comes at a time of national outrage and reckoning over police killings of black men, women and children.
“Bodycams will protect our law enforcement officials and strengthen the relationship with those in the communities in which they serve,” Sandoval said in a statement.
Law enforcement representatives support the policy, which expands a 2015 law directing Nevada Highway Patrol officers to wear body cameras. It does not apply to other transportation officers, corrections officers or school security.
South Carolina required all police departments with adequate funding to use body cameras in 2015. Their police-cam footage is not accessible to the public. Incidents can only be viewed by family or concerned citizens if the law enforcement agency, attorney general or prosecutors choose to release it.
Nevada footage from police body cameras is already public information, but the new law limits its guaranteed availability to only about two weeks. Agencies will be allowed to delete videos 15 days after their recording.
The bill will take effect on July 1, 2018, although it’s unclear whether it is feasible for every department to have the equipment by then. In South Carolina, it could be years more before the 2015 requirement is fulfilled.
Police departments are expected to largely pay for the cameras from 911 funds and federal grants.