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D.C. body-cam access aired on Newseum TV

D.C. is at forefront of national debate over need to protect public access with sensitivity to crime victims' privacy concerns.

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Coalition updates nationwide body cam access report

Find out how states, cities are addressing thorny issues of collection, retention and public access.

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Coalition's first amicus brief tests Council exemption claim

Superior Court ruling would create 'FOIA black hole' from which Council records might never escape.

Posted on Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 2:29pm

After eight months, The Washington Post has won its fight for release of police body-worn camera video showing the June 2017 traffic stop of D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8). Background on the case is here.

And D.C. activist April Goggans has lost her case seeking records (that police say mostly don’t exist) from her experience of several years of police surveillance and harassment at her house in Ward 8 and in the neighborhood.

Trayon White Sr. Case

The parties on March 6 filed a short notice to the court that the case may now be closed because the Post and police “settled all claims.” Without any trial or decision on the merits, there is no legal precedent.

But the press won. An individual familiar with the details told the D.C. Open Government Coalition the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department reversed themselves and released the video. The original incident occurred when police noticed White was driving with no headlights, cited him and also arrested him after finding his license suspended. MPD at first denied the video as exempt under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act claiming release would invade White’s privacy.

The District’s privacy defense went a bit limp when White told a reporter in January that release was OK with him.

Posted on Saturday, March 16, 2019 - 5:04pm

In the week celebrated nationwide to draw attention to open government (coinciding with the birthday of James Madison, an early champion), the D.C. Council last Tuesday (12) talked with and about Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) for an hour behind closed doors.

According to Fenit Nirappil’s account in The Washington Post, following a 9-3 vote to close the meeting, Evans apologized, answered a few questions, and announced he was ending his outside consulting business. He and his attorney left after about 15 minutes. Council members continued talking among themselves for about an hour.

Council members told the Post the Evans session was on “personnel” matters and also to seek legal advice.