More than three years after the Los Angeles Police Department rolled out its plan for officers to use body-worn cameras, police commissioners have approved a policy allowing the release of videos from those body cams as well as from patrol car dashboard cams.
The Los Angeles Police Commission voted 4-0 on Tuesday to approve a policy for releasing footage of “critical incidents,” including officer-involved shootings, use of force that results in death, certain cases involving the death of a person in police custody, or any other police encounter the Commission decides is of public interest. Videos from these incidents will automatically be made public 45 days after they happen and could also include footage that LAPD acquires on security cameras or on bystanders’ smartphones. The rules also allow for delayed release of video that the Commission determines might undermine an active investigation or put the safety of individuals involved at risk. However, the rules specify that the reasons for a delayed release cannot be general and must be specific to the case at hand. The rules will take effect in 30 days and will apply to incidents on and after that date.
Some laud the move as a step in the right direction to improving community relations with police and increasing transparency in law enforcement, but many in law enforcement worry that the video release could potentially jeopardize the integrity of ongoing investigations, or even bias potential jurors when used during trials.
What are the short and long-term implications of this vote? What are the next steps in the process? Will other police departments follow suit?
Matt Johnson, vice president of the Los Angeles Police Commission; he led the subcommittee that wrote the new video release rules
Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League
Adrienna Wong, staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, where her work focuses on police practices