Blog Posts

« Back to blog post list

Body Camera Video Access Hearing Today – Post Reports Chairman Opposes Mayor’s Plan

dcogcadmin | May 7, 2015 | Last modified: September 8, 2019

DC – 5/7/15 — The D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary hears witnesses at 2:00 today including the press and the D.C. Open Government Coalition opposing D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to exempt police video from access under public records laws. Live streaming video from the hearing will be available here.

Kevin Goldberg, president, will testify for the Coalition. The police chief, Cathy Lanier, is also expected to testify.

The Washington Post reports today that committee chair, Council Member Kenyan McDuffie, yesterday revealed his opposition to the mayor’s plan and plans to draft legislation based on the hearing that will provide “a way to access the appropriately redacted footage.” 

The Coalition testimony, to be posted later today, recommends that requests be processed under the time-tested public records statute that, like its federal counterpart, provides ample protection for all the interests mentioned in the debate. The testimony follows the Coalition’s letter to the Council urging hearings after the mayor’s proposal surfaced.  

The hearing brings to even more public view what has been a simmering dispute both in the city and nationwide over public access to video taken by cameras worn by police as they do their work.  Police in the District have been trying out several models since late 2014 and the police budget for the coming year requests $5 million dollars for expanded use. So far, D.C. police have denied access to video from the trial period, saying they can’t process it to fuzz private information that needs protection.

The mayor originally proposed to extend that to a permanent ban on any public access but softened that stance as public opposition grew including Post editorial comment and plain incompatibility with the broad national conversation about increased police accountability. 

See earlier blog post on the developing controversy in the District as well as elsewhere and treatment in the report of the President’s policing task force, here