Tampa police speak on behalf of bill that would bar public from murder recordings
By Janet Zink, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
In Print: Thursday, April 7, 2011

TALLAHASSEE — Tampa police officers were in the Capitol on Wednesday to voice their support for a bill that
would exempt photographs, video and audio recordings of murders from public records laws.

Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, said she was inspired to sponsor the bill after attending the funerals last year of
slain Tampa police Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis.

"I went to the funeral of the two officers, and the three children were my main motivation," she said.

Last month, reporters viewed a video of the police shootings captured on the dashboard camera of Curtis' cruiser. A
local media outlet had sued for its release. Reporters were not allowed to make copies.

Under Burgin's bill, such recordings or photographs would be available only to immediate family members unless a
court determines otherwise. In such a case, the court would have to notify family members of the decision.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted unanimously in favor of HB411 on Wednesday, the bill's second
committee stop.

Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, testified before the panel in support of the bill.

"I don't want a child whose father is a fallen officer to go to school one day and have some kid tell him, 'Hey, did you
know you can watch your dad's murder online?' That's conceivably what could happen here," Cruz said.

Florida's First Amendment Foundation has argued that such videos should be public, noting that a 2006 video
showing teen Martin Lee Anderson being beaten to death in a Florida boot camp resulted in the state shutting down
such facilities.

"If this exemption had been in place at the time, the public and the press would not have been able to see for
themselves what had happened to the boy and, worse, those responsible may never have been held accountable,"
said Barbara Petersen, the foundation's president.

Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, has a similar bill in the Senate.