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State Policies on Release of Police Videos

State Policies on Release of Police Videos – States Have Been Rushing To Catch Up With the Widespread Use of Police Body Cameras by Passing Laws That Govern When and How Footage Can Be Released To the Public

Police Body Worn Cameras: A Policy Scorecard

August 2016 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has compiled current laws re: body camera and access to videos. See the map at

A report prepared by the reporters group included the following findings;

  • As of August 2016, of the 68 “major city” departments in the U.S., 43 now have body worn camera programs with policies in place. Two additional major departments appear to have cameras on the ground, but have not released their policies to the public — Detroit and Pittsburgh.

  • Even when departments have policies in place, nearly half (24 of 46) don’t make them easily and publicly available on their department websites, which hinders robust public debate about how body cameras should be used. Many of the policies we analyzed were found externally on other websites.

  • Increasingly, departments are establishing explicit procedures that allow recorded individuals — like those seeking to file a police misconduct complaint — to view the footage of their own incidents. Five departments we analyzed — in Cincinnati, Chicago, Las Vegas, Parker (CO) and Washington DC — now appear to provide special access to recorded individuals. These special access rights, tailored specifically for body camera footage, exist alongside state-level public records laws.

  • None of the department policies we analyzed have a blanket limitation on officer review of footage before filing an initial written incident report. However, six department policies have partial prohibitions in place, for certain critical incidents like officer shootings.

  • Due to concerns from civil rights groups about the increased potential for surveillance, leading departments have begun to include limits on their use of biometric technologies, like facial recognition, together with camera footage. In our initial release, only Baltimore’s policy addressed facial recognition. Since then, Baltimore County, Boston, Cincinnati, Montgomery County, and Parker (CO) have all followed suit.

    See full article at


Access to Police Body-Worn Camera Video

See a current and comprehensive summary of legislation on access to police videos compiled the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press at

Access to Police Body-Worn Camera Video: State legislation and case law

Department policies. Because only a few states have passed state-wide rules regarding public access to BWC footage, most police departments are left to determine their own rules. As more states pass regulations, individual policies may change to comply with the state’s uniform policies.

Updates. The Reporters Committee will update its map as new information becomes available. If you have information that you would like to contribute to this map, please let us know, or send email directly to hotline [at] with “Body cam update” in the subject line.

List of cities included on the map:

Alabama: Birmingham

Arizona: FlagstaffLake Havasu CityOro ValleyPhoenixSurpriseTucson

ArkansasLittle RockPine Bluff

CaliforniaAnaheimChicoFresnoHaywardLos AngelesMercedModestoNew Menlo ParkOaklandPalo AltoRialtoSan DiegoSan FranciscoSan JoseSanta RosaSonoma

ColoradoDenverFort Collins

ConnecticutEast Haven


District of Columbia



Idaho:  Coeur D’Alene



IowaDes Moines, Iowa City



LouisianaNew Orleans

Maryland: Baltimore


MinnesotaBurnsvilleDuluthMinneapolisSpring Lake ParkSt. Paul

MissouriFergusonSt. Charles


NevadaLas Vegas

New Mexico: El Paso, Albuquerque

New YorkIthacaNew York CityNiagara FallsTompkins

North CarolinaCarrboroCharlotteDavidsonGreensboro

North DakotaGrand Forks

OhioCincinnatiClevelandColumbusOhio State University

Oklahoma: Oklahoma CityTulsa


Rhode Island

South CarolinaCharlestonMyrtle Beach

TennesseeAlcoaNashvilleUniversity of Tennessee

TexasAransas PassAustinDallasDeSotoFort WorthHoustonRockportTylerWaxahachie

UtahSalt Lake CityWest Valley City



WashingtonAirway HeightsBainbridge IslandBellinghamLiberty LakePoulsboPullmanSeattleSpokane

WisconsinEau ClaireLa CrosseMilwaukeeWhitewater



Pew Charitable Trusts published an article summarizing many of the issues: See full article at

States Impose Wildly Different Policies in Releasing Police Videos

October 11, 2016. Over the last two years, and without much regulation, police departments have hurried to strap body cameras to their officers, both to address demands for transparency and to protect police from accusations of wrongdoing. But once the cameras started rolling, many departments were left not knowing when or how they could show the footage to the public, prompting policymakers to act. At least 21 states and dozens of municipalities have instituted policies that range from treating body camera footage like other public records to imposing outright bans on releasing footage. And more could be on the way to locking down body camera footage.

Figuring out how to share what the cameras capture is a difficult balance, said Dave McClure, a researcher at the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank focused economic and social policy research. “You want to be transparent with the footage, and let the public see it because they need to know what police officers are doing,” McClure said. “But it also contains information that is very sensitive and private.”

Steve Zansberg, a Colorado-based First Amendment attorney who has represented media companies, calls for greater openness and transparency. He said all recordings made in public spaces should be presumptively open because they document the conduct of public servants. .  . .Most states choose to enact more restrictive laws, Zansberg said, but he points to Oklahoma as a state with a more open policy. That law, enacted last year, generally allows for the disclosure of body camera footage, save for recordings that include nudity, children, criminal informants, victims of sex crimes or domestic violence and the personal information of innocent people.



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