Bill limiting photo-taking by first responders advances | News

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BOSTON — The state House of Representatives advanced legislation Thursday prohibiting first responders from taking or sharing pictures of crime scene victims without their consent, a measure advocates have said protects people’s privacy in traumatic moments.

The bill (H 1917), filed by Rep. Joseph Wagner and Sen. Eric Lesser, stems from the 2011 death of Amanda Plasse, who Chicopee police took photos of and disseminated after she was stabbed to death.

Her family testified in support of the proposal at a Judiciary Committee hearing in July 2021.

“Why am I still fighting for this? In 30 days, it’ll be 10 years since Amanda was murdered, and here we go yet again. I’m still trying to get this passed,” Michelle Mathieson said at that hearing.

Two officers were found to have taken photos of Plasse’s body at the murder scene which were then forwarded to other law enforcement personnel, a Chicopee Police Department internal affairs report found. Another officer then showed the pictures to members of the public, the Springfield Republican reported in 2013.

The bill bars first responders — police officers, firefighters, or EMTs — from taking or sharing images of a crime scene victim without the consent of the victim or an immediate family member, unless it is part of their official duties. Violation of the proposed law would result in a fine of up $2,000 and up to a year in prison.

The House passed a previous version of the bill in 2014 but it lost steam in the Senate.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a similar bill into law in September 2020.

Wagner is not seeking reelection this year and Lesser is running for lieutenant governor. 

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