New Bill Would Give Victims And Witnesses A Say In The Release Of Body Camera Footage, Comedy With A Side Of Activism, The Data We Generate

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Comedian Hari Kondabolu shares his take on comedy that stems from his interest in politics, race, and social justice. Everything we do in life generates data, much of which is collected and used. We find out what that means for our lives and the impact it can have. And we look at proposed legislation which would allow victims and witnesses to have a say in how body camera footage is released.

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  • Lawmakers Consider Adding Regulations To When Body Camera Footage Can Be Released To Public

    Police officers often enter private homes wearing body cameras. That video footage can be released to the public upon request.

    Some Republican lawmakers from the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate want to change that.

    They’ve drafted a bill that would allow “crime victims, witnesses and property owners to block the public release of police body camera footage,” according to The Associated Press.

    “Just because it’s recorded or has been recorded doesn’t mean it should be released to the public and show up on YouTube or the 6 p.m. news,” said Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Any thief, potential person looking to break into a home, any nosy neighbor can see anything they want to see.”

    Body cameras are often lauded by civil rights activists as an important accountability tool. They are also overwhelmingly popular with the general public.

    A 2015 poll from The Leadership Conference Education Fund found 88 percent of Americans were in favor of requiring police to wear body cameras. Most were also in favor of making the footage publicly available.

    Kremer told WPR he values body cameras for both their transparency and as a policing tool. But, he said, he worries there are no regulations to ensure the videos are used for function, and not as an unnecessary breach of privacy.

    He views this bill as a “basic framework,” a “minimal guideline” for law enforcement to follow.

    The proposal would affect footage in areas where those involved have a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” such as a private home, defined by the United States Supreme Court in the past.

    In those situations, the property owner would need to sign off on a body camera video recording before could be released to the public.

    By Supreme Court definition, that doesn’t include malls or a vehicle on a public roadway.

    The bill also would add a minimum retention policy for body camera footage. Currently, some small law enforcement agencies hold onto footage for years. He said larger agencies like Milwaukee hold for less time, only 130 days.

    This legislation proposes a 120-day minimum for footage retention.

    That wouldn’t affect video footage related to death, injury, custodial arrest or search during questioning, he said, which would still be held onto indefinitely. In addition, a judge could still order footage of any kind to be held indefinitely.

  • New Bill Would Give Victims And Witnesses A Say In The Release Of Body Camera Footage

    A new body camera bill would allow victims and witnesses who appear on police body camera footage to have a say in whether it’s released to the public. Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) joins us to talk about the legislation.

  • Hari Kondabolu Talks Comedy, Politics, Diversity

    Hari Kondabolu talks a lot about politics in his comedy. He’s particularly interested in picking apart the power dynamics involved in discrimination and prejudice.

    But he says he’s not a political comic.

    “Whenever I get called a political comedian, it makes it sound like I’m putting on, like, my political lens, as if that’s not something I see immediately. I see myself as an observational comic,” Kondabolu said. “The first things I observe often are power dynamics. I see power dynamics very quickly, that’s one of my strengths. So why should that be seen as something that’s niche?”

    Kondabolu’s comedy is strongly influenced by growing up Indian-American in a post-9/11 world. He was born in Queens, New York, to Indian immigrants, and grew up in an extremely diverse neighborhood.

    “I was sheltered in diversity, which I didn’t realize until I went to college in Maine, which was very different,” he said.

    Kondabolu wasn’t particularly political growing up, but 9/11 changed that. Violence against people of color after 9/11 brought home the realization that people like him, people who aren’t white, may not be considered to be truly American to some.

    After 9/11, Kondabolu started to “question what it is to be an American, and why am I not included in that,” he said.

    Kondabolu said he knew his upbringing in Queens wasn’t necessarily what the rest of America looked like, “because the rest of the country, as it was depicted on television, (it was) like, ‘Oh, my community doesn’t exist, and none of my friends exist.’ But I don’t think I really felt that until after 9/11, where I’m like, ‘Oh, we’re seen as outsiders in our own country.’”

    Those sentiments brought Kondabolu to a more political state of mind. He started appreciating the place of the civil rights movement in his own life, and became more politically active.

    But he still sees his primary job as making people laugh.

    “When people start clapping and snapping … in agreement, that’s not good. That’s not a good show. That means they agreed with me. That means the punch line wasn’t strong enough but they liked the political points,” Kondabolu said. “I’m not speaking at a rally. I’m a comedian in a comedy club.”

    Kondabolu will perform Friday and Saturday at the Comedy Club On State in Madison.

  • Hari Kondabolu On Comedy In Today's America

    Hari Kondabolu is a stand-up comedian who has risen to national prominence in the last few years with humor has focused on everything from race in America to day-to-day life. We talk to him about why he doesn’t like being called a political comic, coming of age, and more.

  • Our Data, Ourselves? How Algorithms Affect Our Lives

    Data rules everything around us. An expert on the digital world says businesses and government agencies use algorithms that define us by the data trails we leave–and that can affect our lives in unexpected ways.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Jesse Kremer Guest
  • Hari Kondabolu Guest
  • John Cheney-Lippold Guest

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