Transparency, Privacy, and Police Body Cams in Washington

Bill Lucia has a great article in Crosscut about a little wrinkle in new officer-worn body camera policies being adopted by police departments across the state:

But even though his officers embraced the new technology, and the department has the money set aside in its 2015 budget to roll out a permanent body camera program, Strachan is planning to hold off for now. The reason: At least two other Washington state police departments that use the cameras have received public disclosure requests for all video footage recorded by the devices. The requests threaten to create a crippling workload for agencies with limited staff and technology. Some police officials also worry about the privacy implications for their communities if the footage is made widely available.

Lucia at 1 (emphasis added). Continue reading

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Privacy vs. Accountability: The Police “Dash-Cam” Litigation

Last week, King County Superior Court Judge James Rogers issued an opinion resolving a dispute between KOMO reporter Tracy Vedder (“KOMO”) and the Seattle Police Department (“SPD”) regarding access to SPD “dash-camera” videos under the Public Records Act (“PRA”). Judge Rogers’s decision has gotten some publicity, which is not surprising given the public nature of the dispute, so I figured the case and the surrounding publicity would be worth some discussion here on the blog. But before I talk about the pub, I should probably do my best to summarize what Judge Rogers actually decided.

Dash-Cam Picture

Screen capture from a dash-cam video obtained by KOMO

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