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D.C.'s New Police Body Camera Policy is an Important Step

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.

DC Police Body Camera

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 free consultation.