Miami Herald by Elizabeth Koh
May 23, 2019
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Thursday that blocks the release of government-held recordings of deaths in mass violence incidents, in a move that could affect what the public sees after mass shootings like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy last year or the Pulse nightclub attack in 2016.
The bill, SB 186, applies to government photo, audio and video recordings that show the deaths of three or more people, not including the perpetrator, in an incident of mass violence, and blocks such records from being released under the state’s public records laws.
The bill had drawn outcry from open-government advocates who said such records are needed to hold agencies and officials accountable. After the Parkland shooting last year, for example, news organizations had sought videos showing the actions of sheriff’s deputies in Broward County that under the new law could be shielded from public records requests.
Supporters of the new law said it will help curb graphic videos or photos that could lead to similar future crimes and prevent loved ones from being re-traumatized by the images, though the new law does not apply to private recordings of such violent incidents that have spread on social media after an attack.