September 28, 2021 21:32

Despite Increased Transparency, Accessing LAPD Body Cam Footage Is a Struggle

In Los Angeles, advocates and attorneys say that despite the existence of a large scale body-worn camera program, it remains incredibly difficult to obtain police body-cam footage in the vast majority of cases and that even with police interventions that lead to serious injuries, it takes time, effort and, in many cases, lawsuits to get access to all relevant images, reports The Guardian. The LAPD at first forbade the public release of the footage, citing concerns about privacy and compromising investigations until 2018, when a “critical incident policy” that mandated the release within 45 days of footage of encounters including police shootings and cases where the police force caused people to suffer great bodily injury or die. California instituted a similar rule for the entire state the following year. But while the critical incident policy is among the most transparent in the country, in practice, accessing the footage remains difficult as California police are allowed to withhold footage even in critical cases, if they can demonstrate that the release would interfere with an ongoing investigation, or violate privacy. Rarely does the department release all footage available. Meanwhile, lawsuits require time and money. And despite the improved transparency, the Los Angeles police department (LAPD) is currently facing at least three lawsuits that hinge on police wrongdoing revealed in body-worn camera footage.

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