Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said this week that police should release “as much video as possible” to increase trust, transparency and officer morale in a department with fractured relations in some neighborhoods, reports the Sacramento Bee. Steinberg and Tim Davis, head of the Sacramento police officers union, said police are frustrated that a new city policy requiring release of video in extreme confrontations unfairly portrays their department. In the most recent example, an officer was captured on tape last month tackling a pedestrian to the ground and repeatedly punching him. A city policy approved last year requires that footage of “critical incidents” with police be released to the public within 30 days.
Steinberg called on the city to release video showing “everyday interactions, incidents that occur where the police officer acted in the right,” which he said would boost department morale. He also supports releasing video from lesser confrontations that don’t meet the “critical” threshold under current law. “The police have … rightly complained that with our current video release policy, the only thing the public sees is the controversial shooting. Well, there is a lot more to see,” he said. “Transparency is transparency and we have the technology now to be able to actually do more than we are doing in a way that I think could bridge some of the trust gap that we hear so much about.” Police spokesman Matt McPhail said the department has the discretion to release video in non-critical incidents but does not regularly do so in part because it lacks the manpower to edit the footage. Also, the department has not determined that releasing more video is the best course. “I know it seems really simple to say you have it why don’t you just do it, but there are a lot more calculations,” said McPhail. “The question is by putting that video out, what is the value and what is the potential negative?”