Bill Watch

Transparency-Forward Police Body Cam Law Goes Into Effect on July 1

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Monday, July 1, a new state law will require law enforcement agencies in California to release footage from body-worn cameras within 45 days of a “critical incident” in which an officer has fired at a person or used force that resulted in death or serious injury.

The measure, AB 748, will bring department protocols across the state in line with the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy, updated in April 2018, through which the department must release footage within 45 days, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Prior to its about-face last April, the LAPD withheld videos from the public, unless a court ordered the footage to be released. Department policy also previously allowed officers to review body cam video before making an initial statement after an incident.

“Public access to body camera footage is necessary to boost confidence and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said Ting. “This law sets clear expectations for agencies – they can no longer withhold body camera video or audio from us.”

Critics of AB 748 have expressed concern that releasing footage could interfere with investigations and prosecutions.

The measure, however, aims to safeguard against undermining prosecutions and investigations, by allowing agencies that can “demonstrate that disclosure would” endanger a witness or a confidential informant, or would otherwise “substantially interfere with the investigation” to delay the release of the footage through 30-day extensions.

The new law will also allow agencies, under certain circumstances, to blur, obscure and redact, so long as the changes do not interfere with the public’s ability to “fully, completely, and accurately comprehend the events captured in the recording.”

If redaction will not protect the “reasonable expectation of privacy of a subject depicted in the recording,” and that “that person’s interest outweighs the public interest in disclosure,” a law enforcement agency can withhold footage. Even under those circumstances, a department must still hand over the recording to the subject of the recording (or the subject’s legal guardians, if the subject is a minor), or to the family or legal representative of a subject, if the subject is dead.

“AB 748 is a groundbreaking measure that will establish a statewide standard to ensure law enforcement agencies promptly release police recordings,” said Kevin Baker, Legislative Director for the ACLU of California. “Police recordings can be a valuable tool for civilian oversight at a time of great concern with police violence.”

Baker and other bill proponents say sharing these police recordings with the public in a responsible and timely manner will go a long way toward repairing tenuous police-community relations.


Photo by Sgt. Jake McClung, U.S. Marines

6 Comments

  • I would like a law passed that requires all legislative representatives in the state to wear body worn cameras while conducting any state business. They would than be required to post the footage daily. Thoughts!

    • The sad and sick truth about this is that the lasd and other corrupt agencies are going to find a way to get around being transparent and utilizing body cams. Im thinking they’re going to find a way to show why a camera wasn’t rolling or was non-functioning while they beat the crap out of an inmate that refused to get on his bunk bc the dep didn’t give them toilet paper. Kind of like how they they get other inmates to beat the crap out of another inmate…well shoot me ur email and we’ll talk more.

  • I doubt any agency will have and issue with this. The big question is, let’s see how quickly ACLU will move to get rid of body cameras when they actually depict the suspect’s actions and why the officer took action. There won’s be any more speculations or false allegations. Every cop welcomes body cameras. Most have purchased their own regardless if their agency provides it or not. I’ve had my own for several years now and it has gotten me out of many false complaints. If I’m ACLU or some activist, I’d be careful what I wish for. Cops welcome it and for once, the suspects will be on national TV. Hahahahaha….

  • And there you have the evidence, in the previous comments, of what will happen when ALL cops where body cameras ALL the time. The anti-police ACLU types will point to the rare instances where the video is an indictment of the cops, and COMPLETELY IGNORE the 99 percent when the video exonerates the cop. That’s what they do. It’s also what the mainstream media does. But overall, this is a GREAT thing for the cops. The chickenshit low level lawyers who make a living suing LE agencies (and getting small settlements because it’s cheaper than going to court for the municipalities) are the ones that are saying to themselves: “Oh shit. What now”? They know the gravy train has ended. They know their “clients” are lying their asses off 99 percent of the time. The body cams will put them out of business, or at least force them to find a new sleazy unethical way to make a living. Que sera sera.

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