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Coalition president offers roadmap on DC body camera use

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

Kevin Goldberg, president of the D.C. Open Government Coalition, told the Committee on the Judiciary of the D.C. Council that any police body camera program adopted by the District should encourage transparency with disclosure guided by current Freedom of Information Act restrictions.

“Protection of personal privacy is not a justification for a full exemption from FOIA,” Goldberg said in prepared testimony. “Privacy has been a concern since the earliest discussions of open records policy, and is well-protected in the federal FOIA statute from which the DC statute was copied. We therefore recommend reliance on the existing D.C. FOIA law and exemptions.”

On behalf of the Coalition, Goldberg earlier wrote a letter to Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, asking both to reject Mayor Muriel Bower’s request for a broad disclosure exemption in her 2016 budget proposal, which includes funds to equip all MPD officers with body cameras.

In his testimony on May 7, Goldberg said the council “should only consider FOIA exemptions when proposed in single-issue bills or in conjunction with other transparency related measures.

“FOIA gets to the heart of the public’s ability to participate in and oversee the actions of government,” he said in his prepared remarks. “Enacting any FOIA exemption via generalized legislation, such as the Budget Support Act, creates a very real threat that the views of D.C. residents about the FOIA exemption will not receive meaningful consideration.

“There is just too much at stake to rush to judgment,” he added.

[Download Testimony]