Washington, D.C.’s Council ended months of arguments yesterday and approved a plan that would allow most footage captured by police wearing body cameras to be accessible to the public. The Washington Post says the plan marks a breakthrough nationally in body-camera disclosure law as states from New York to California wrestle with similar concerns. Large police departments have generally opted against releasing video. The decision, which paves the way for 2,400 cameras to hit the streets by next summer, got the council's unanimous support, despite members' concerns about privacy.
The measure rolls back parts of Mayor Muriel Bowser's original proposal, which would have allowed police to block public access to most footage in the interest of protecting personal privacy, but it maintains exemptions for footage shot inside homes. Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie, who authored the revised bill, said, “I think what we're doing here is one of the most expansive and thorough regulatory schemes in the country.” Under the revised plan, police assigned to D.C. schools will be able to record video footage of “critical” altercations or during emergencies. Footage from incidents inside homes and schools will also be available for use in court proceedings through the normal discovery process, McDuffie said.