California Body Camera Policy

In deciding whether and when to release video after an officer-involved shooting, there are many factors to consider. To learn more, watch the video above, produced as part of the Policing Project’s community engagement work on body-worn cameras in Los Angeles.

What should happen if a police officer’s body-worn camera records an officer-involved shooting or other serious use of force incident? Should the video be made public? And if so, when?

In March 2018, the Los Angeles Police Commission approved a new policy requiring the LAPD to release video footage of officer-involved shootings and other critical incidents within 45 days, unless there are extenuating circumstances that require delaying release.

The policy became the model for California Assembly Bill 748, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018, which requires departments statewide to follow these same protocols. As a result, California’s policy on the release of police body-worn camera footage is considered one of the most transparent in the country.

our Community Engagement Process in LA

The change in policy for the LA Police Commission followed a report released by the Policing Project in September 2017, which showed broad public support for making video public in the interest of transparency and community trust.

The report was a result of a city-wide public engagement effort from the Los Angeles Police Commission carried out with the help of the Policing Project, UCLA School of Law, and UC Irvine School of Law. The survey invited members of the public to provide input on questions relating to body-worn camera footage by taking an online questionnaire, attending a community forum, or submitting written comments.

The Policing Project received 3,200 questionnaires from individuals who live, work, or go to school in Los Angeles, as well as comments from 27 local and national organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, National Action Network Los Angeles, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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