Police Commission Debates New Policy on Releasing Body Camera Footage

The Los Angeles Police Commission discussed a new proposal that would release videos taken from officer body cameras and other sources recorded during shootings and major incidents sooner, but no vote on the issue was taken. 

Board Vice President Matt Johnson, who helped craft the new policy, said the board would likely take the proposal up at its March 13th meeting after gather further public comments and feedback over the next few weeks. 

The proposal would reverse the current policy at the LAPD of not releasing any videos except when under a court order. 

"As a general rule, video evidence will be released to the public within forty-five days of the incident," Police Commissioner Matt Johnson said. "It is our hope and expectation that by increasing transparency, we are strengthening the bonds of trust between the LAPD and the community we serve."

The $59 million plan was enacted by the City Council last June to help equip more than 7,000 patrol officers with body cameras, sparking a debate on when video taken during critical incidents might be publicly released. 

Under the new proposal, video taken during 'critical incidents' like shootings, in-custody deaths, and other major events, would be released within 45 days. The new policy would apply to body cameras, in-car video, police facility surveillance, drones, and video that was captured by third parties in the department's possession. 

"This policy is intended to balance two important interests: the public's interest in transparency and police accountability, and the privacy of interests of the individuals depicted in such videos,'' Tefank wrote in the proposal. 

Video might be withheld from public release under some circumstances, police said. Those situations might include protecting confidential sources, or the integrity of an investigation. 

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