Ting Bill Requiring Release of Body Camera Footage Heads To the Governor
It could soon be easier for the public to obtain body camera footage from law enforcement under a proposal from Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). The state Legislature voted today to send AB 748 to Governor Brown for consideration. The bill requires the release of video or audio within 45 days of a critical incident, which is defined as the discharge of a firearm or use-of-force that causes death or great bodily harm.
“As more and more law enforcement agencies begin to use body cameras, California needs a statewide standard for how the public can access those recordings,” said Ting. “Transparency is necessary after critical incidents occur, and AB 748 will help rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
There is no clear or consistent policy regarding the release of body camera recordings under current California law. In April, the Los Angeles Police Commission adopted a policy similar to AB 748. But other departments commonly cite “pending investigation” as a reason to withhold body camera footage under the Public Records Act, fostering further mistrust after critical incidents occur. Recordings can help shed light on and provide clarity when there is confusion in the community after tragic events. They can even help clear law enforcement of any perceived wrongdoing. If releasing body camera footage interferes with an investigation, AB 748 also allows for 30-day delays.
“This is an important measure to bolster the foundation of democracy,” said . “Without public disclosure, the government can’t be responsive to the people. Like all other government employees, the police work for the public. They have a vital role in protecting us from crime, but that doesn’t shield them from public oversight.”
The Governor has until the end of September to act on all bills sent to him in the last few days of the legislative session. If he approves AB 748, the law will take effect July 1, 2019.
Media Contact: Nannette Miranda (916) 319-2396
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