"We find that given its nature and use, the body-worn-camera footage at issue is not a personnel record covered by the confidentiality and disclosure requirements of [
"Otherwise, that could sweep into the purview of many police records that are an expected or required part of investigations or performance evaluations [and are visible to the public]," the ruling reads.
"I think the release to the public is a bit of an overstep, but in the right direction," Lawrence said. "They should be accessible to the public, but there should also be controls in place to protect the privacy and due process rights of survivors or defendants."
Ultimately, both Lawrence and the court agreed, while body-worn cameras may not have any huge direct effects on how police act in the field, the increased accountability helps communities trust their police more, and even make cops' jobs easier in the long run.
"Transparency has been deeply linked to improving trust in the department's practices and activities," Lawrence said. "When that trust is increased there is an increased view of police legitimacy, and that's the degree that the public accepts or voluntarily complies with decisions and rules from an authority figure."
Even so, the PBA disagreed, promising to "assess" the possibility of appealing the decision.
"We believe that the court's decision is wrong, that it will have a negative impact on public safety and on the safety of our members," PBA president