DC Mayor’s New Policy Would Make Police Body-Camera Footage Available to Public

Phillip Jackson
Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Officer JaShawn Colkley wears one of the “body-worn cameras” that the city’s officers will begin using during a press conference announcing the details of the program Sept. 24, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has proposed a plan that would release more footage from police body cameras to the public if the encounter with police occurred in a public place, the Washington Post reports.

This new policy would reverse Bowser’s original position that body-camera footage should not be subject to the city’s freedom-of-information law.  


The new plan would make a clear distinction between video recorded in public and in private settings. People would be able to access copies of officer interactions with the public on traffic stops and in street corners as well as at other public spaces in the city, according to the proposal.

Bowser’s plan says that anyone who has an interaction with police in the city would be entitled to review recordings at a police station, but that might apply only up to 90 days after the incident.


During a year of documented fatal interactions with police, many communities in cities across the country—including Cleveland, Baltimore, New York and Ferguson, Mo.—have requested action on better policing methods. A number of police departments have moved to body cameras on officers, but not all departments release footage to the public without restrictions. New York and Los Angeles, for example, do not release such footage to the public, according to the Associated Press.

AP reports that the D.C. Council had reduced funding for body cameras in response to Bowser’s original proposal that the footage not be shown to the public. Bowser reportedly had asked for enough money to equip all 2,800 patrol officers with cameras. District officers currently have 400 cameras as part of a pilot program.


Bowser has reportedly asked the council to enact the proposal this fall, with the release of additional body cameras starting in January 2016.

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