By: Allan M. Siegel
With unrest arising again in Ferguson, Missouri, and the recent police
shooting of a knife-wielding woman in the District of Columbia, the District
of Columbia’s newly announced policy regarding body cameras is a
welcome step in ensuring police accountability. Under the policy, the
District would allow private citizens to obtain copies of video recorded
on street corners, during traffic stops, and outdoors. Recordings would
still not be available to the public if made in private spaces, and generally
would allow access only in court proceedings. Anyone who has an interaction
with the police would be allowed to go to a police station and review
the recording, within 90-days of the event. To protect the privacy of
victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, any video relating to
those crimes would not be made public.
This new policy is a reversal for the District, as Mayor Muriel Bowser
had previously refused to make public any of the footage that was recorded
by the police body cameras. There is still some question of when, or if,
audio would be included in the recordings. Although this is an important
step in the right direction, groups wanting increased transparency and
police accountability and the police union criticized the policy as not
doing enough to make more of the recordings available to the public. The
groups seeking increased police accountability want more public access
for oversight purposes, while the police union wants to show that while
there are some officers who engage in misconduct, the vast majority do
their jobs properly.
Police misconduct is a serious issue that can have tragic consequences
as seen in Ferguson, Baltimore, or even Fairfax County, Virginia. It also
weakens the trust people place in the police, and damages the reputation
of the majority of officers who do their jobs properly and without incident.
The attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. understand
the importance of police accountability and have helped numerous individuals
recover compensation for injuries sustained due to police misconduct.
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of police misconduct,
please give us a call today for a