According to the Washington Post, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser recently announced a new proposal that will make police body footage camera available to the public. This includes any footage that is shot outdoors, such as a sidewalk or traffic stop.
In this plan, private citizens will be given access to thousands of videos documenting police interactions with citizens. The footage would be available to the public at police stations for a period of 90 days.
Previously, Mayor Bowser rejected the idea of releasing the body camera footage to the public. Bowser says she changed her mind after the increased amount of shootings by police officers being reported around the nation.
”Earlier this year, I proposed putting D.C. at the razor’s edge of body worn camera implementation,” Bowser says in her proposal. “Nationally, we have all seen too many instances where video footage proved to be invaluable. That’s why we are committed to providing every patrol officer with a camera.”
In response to concerns about officer privacy, the proposal makes a clear distinction as to what kinds of videos can be shared with the public. This includes videos made exempt from the Freedom of Information Act requests, such as videos recorded inside a home or on private property. Any videos that involve sexual abuse and domestic violence will also be kept from the general public. Videos taken indoors will generally not be widely released to the public, but can be used as evidence in court.
Police cameras and police car video systems can be highly beneficial to the community.
“As a law enforcement officer myself, I believe that wearing body cameras in general is a win/win for departments and the public,” says Jubal Ragsdale, President, 10-8 Video LLC. “All across the US and internationally, citizens are demanding more accountability from law enforcement agencies. This includes wanting officers to have video of their citizen encounters. While I support an individual’s privacy when video is taken inside the home, any video in public should be available. This would allow the public to see events from the officer’s point of view.”
Bowser hopes that the releasing of police body camera footage is a trend that will catch on across the U.S. After the increase in police shootings across the nation, cities such as New York and Los Angeles have begun to respond to the public’s demand of police accountability by placing body cameras on their officers.