Police May Use Body Cams Without Asking Permission, WA AG Says


Police need not ask permission to use body cameras to record their interactions with the public in most circumstances, says Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Conceding his office was in uncharted territory because the technology is relatively new, Ferguson said citizens must assume interactions with on-duty police are public and thus officers are under no obligation to turn off body-cams even when asked, the Seattle Times reports.

Ferguson said citizens have the same right to film uniformed police officers in public. The state Supreme Court “has recognized that a conversation between a police officer and a member of the public that occurs in the performance of the officer's duties is not private,” Ferguson said. Noah Purcell, solicitor general for the Attorney General, said that in most circumstances an officer still can legally record audio and video in private settings. “If it's a confrontation with a police officer, it's not private; it doesn't really matter where it's happening,” Purcell said.

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