Journalists Argue For Release Of D.C. Police Body Camera Footage

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press appealed the Washington, D.C., police department’s refusal to release video footage from the first two days its officers began wearing “body cams” as part of a six-month pilot program, which had been touted as a means to greater transparency. The police department denied access to all 128 body-worn camera videos from Oct. 1-2 in their entirety, claiming that it is unable to redact “the faces, names, and other identifying information regarding arrestees, suspects, victims, and witnesses are exempt from disclosure as unwarranted invasions of personal privacy” under D.C. law.

The “claimed inability to redact …footage is both implausible and legally unacceptable,” the Reporters Committee argued. “Not only does this run contrary to the stated objectives of the … program — to increase transparency and accountability — it also undermines the purpose of the D.C. FOIA to ensure that 'all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees,'” the appeal argued. Noting that there is “no question that the requested videos are public records,” the committee argued that at the very least, audio and images not exempt from disclosure should have been released.

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