Humboldt County, Calif., may become just the second county in the nation to adopt a uniform policy governing the release of police officer-involved shooting videos, a move officials hope will increase transparency and trust between law enforcement and the local community, reports the North Coast Journal. But just as Humboldt is beginning work on a draft policy, the one it’s modeled after is coming under fire in San Diego County. Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming recently met with the Law Enforcement Chiefs Association of Humboldt to discuss San Diego’s new policy, which generally dictates that police will release video footage from officer-involved shootings after prosecutors have determined whether or not to criminally charge those involved. Local support for the San Diego model seems to be universal, and Fleming said her office is currently working on a draft that closely mirrors it.
The San Diego policy is widely viewed as groundbreaking, especially in California, where public record laws give law enforcement agencies wide discretion in what they release to the public and what they keep confidential. But across the nation, while police patrol car and body-worn cameras have been widely deployed, use of the technology seems to have outpaced the implementation of policies governing what to do with the footage. The San Diego model was instituted by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who had chosen not to release videos in a number of high profile officer-involved shootings before reversing course. The policy makes the release of such videos the standard, but only after prosecutors have decided whether to bring criminal charges. In cases where criminal charges are brought, the video would be held as evidence and only made public at trial.