Police endanger civil rights with body camera policies, report says

"The only cities to earn uniformly negative results were Atlanta and Ferguson, a city the group chose to examine in the wake of the controversy following the shooting of Michael Brown last year.

“For both of those departments, their policies were extremely brief and probably the least thought out of all the policies we’ve reviewed,” said Harlan Yu, a principal at Upturn.

“By allowing pre-report viewing, statements from officers will always appear more accurate and more credible than other witnesses statements, which would unnecessarily tilt the justice system even further against criminal defendants,” Yu said. “It’s unlikely that any prosecutor or investigator would ever afford other witnesses the ability to watch footage of an incident before giving an untainted statement. It should be no different for officers.”

Yu added that many departments scored poorly when it came to how they let the public access the footage. In all, the group found that only Washington, D.C., and Parker have policies that let people who want to file a complaint about officer misconduct to view any relevant footage.

“Nearly all the other departments rely simply on their state and public records law, but this may not be enough,” Yu said. “In California, for example, all footage is considered public records, but California’s public records act provides a broad investigatory exemption, which effectively means that no California body camera footage is ever required to be made available to anyone outside the department.”"