Under New Body-Cam Regs, DC Residents Will Be Able To See Most Film
The D.C. Council passed a bill Tuesday that would afford residents the ability to access a majority of the video captured on body cameras worn by police officers.
Initially, Mayor Muriel Bowser wanted a blanket exemption that would have kept all of the video from the public, but under the new rules all but the most sensitive video will be available.
According to the rules passed Tuesday, people who are recorded on body cameras or who accuse a police officer of wrongdoing can watch the footage immediately at a police station, and any resident can request the video through the city’s Freedom of Information Act.
Also, under the new law, the mayor can release “otherwise undisclosed” video if the footage is of immense interest to the public.(RELATED: DC Mayor: I Decide What Body Cam Footage Is Important)
The only video restricted under the final law is that involving domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.
The decision on the body camera regulations came after a months-long back and forth between Bowser’s administration, which wanted all of the footage shielded from the public, and civil rights groups that wanted even greater public access to the videos.
The final compromise came out of an October Judiciary Committee hearing where advocates and council members pointed out that the city’s current FOIA laws would shield the privacy of residents, while at the same time provide transparency for those who want to see the videos.
The Metropolitan Police Department currently deploys 400 body cameras in two of the city’s more crime ridden districts. Under the new law, the city would purchase an additional 2,400 body cameras next year.(RELATED: DC Police Sending Body Cameras To Mostly Black Neighborhoods)
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