D.C. Plan Would Release Much Police Video; Critics Say It Falls Short


Police in Washington, D.C., would release more footage from body cameras than in any other major U.S. city under a plan from Mayor Muriel Bowser that reverses her previous opposition to making such videos public, the Washington Post reports. Bowser's proposal, which could shed light on thousands of recorded interactions between police and the public, would allow private citizens to obtain copies of video recorded on street corners, during traffic stops and elsewhere outdoors. The proposal would draw a bright line between such recordings and those made in private spaces. Citing privacy concerns, the city would restrict access to video recorded indoors, for the most part allowing it only in court proceedings.

Advocates for police accountability and even the city's officers union say that it is only half the public access that is needed. The framework could mark a breakthrough nationally in body-camera disclosure law as states from New York to California wrestle with similar concerns. In the year since a racially charged police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., scores of cities have responded to public outcry for better police accountability by adopting widespread use of body-worn cameras. Faced with a dearth of technology to blur the personal information often contained in such videos, police and elected leaders have warned of costs that could run into the millions annually for cities striving to comply with existing public records laws.

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