Police body cams failing to fulfill promise of transparent police actions

A bill to make police body-cam footage a matter of public record stalled again in the California state legislature, failing to make a September 1 deadline. The bill introduces a test that could be used by law enforcement to determine when to disclose body-cam footage in incidents such as fatal shootings.  As it stands now, police routinely block access by claiming the footage is part of an ongoing investigation.  (Courthouse News Service, September 6, 2017, by Nick Cahill)

Body cams were introduced after a number of disputed police shootings became national news. But as of yet there is no uniformity in state and local laws governing when the body-cam footage can be released to the public. (Ars Technica, September 6, 2017, by David Kravits)

The Washington Post is on the record favoring making the footage public. In an editorial, September 28, 2015, addressing efforts in the District of Columbia, the editorial board wrote, “The aim of the body cameras is to build trust in police by bringing greater transparency to their interactions with the public. It follows that the more disclosure, the better.”