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14. Police video (e.g, body camera footage, dashcam videos)

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  • California

    Recordings of critical incidents, defined as including incidents involving the discharge of a firearm at a person by a peace officer or custodial officer and incidents in which the use of force by a peace officer or custodial officer against a person results in death or great bodily injury, are public, subject to certain limitations and exceptions.  Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(f)(4).

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  • Florida

    Body camera footage is confidential and exempt if the recording is taken inside a private residence, a medical or health care facility, or any place in which a person would have an expectation of privacy. Fla. Stat. § 119.071(2)(l). Accordingly, body camera footage taken on a public street generally should be disclosed. However, the statute also provides that other exemptions may apply to limit disclosure. Most frequently, law enforcement agencies will withhold body camera footage or portions thereof based on the active criminal investigative exemption in Fla. Stat. § 119.071(2)(c).

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  • Georgia

    With certain exceptions, Georgia law requires video recordings from law enforcement body-worn devices and devices inside of law enforcement vehicles to be retained for a minimum of 180 days. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-96. Unless part of an initial arrest or incident report, the recordings may be exempt from disclosure under the Act’s pending investigation or prosecution exception or if made in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. § 50-18-72(a) (4), (26.2).

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  • Illinois

    The subject of the body camera footage may obtain the recording through FOIA regardless of whether it has been flagged under 50 ILCS 406/10-1. Public Access Opinion 19-001 (available at  https://perma.cc/9G5R-YT6Z).

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  • Iowa

    Video recordings may not be subject to disclosure under Iowa Code § 22.7(5).  Disclosure will depend on whether the recording record is considered a report and investigatory. Neer v. State, 2011 Iowa App. LEXIS 154 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 23, 2011).  Though police investigatory reports do not lose their confidential status when the investigation ends, Iowa Code § 22.7(5) allows for “an exemption from confidentiality for basic facts about the incident” if the litigant can show that the public good of disclosure outweighs the associated public harm. Mitchell v. City of Cedar Rapids, 926 N.W.2d 222, 232 (Iowa 2019).

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  • Kansas

    As of July 1, 2016, the Kansas Legislature addressed issues related to police video by defining “[e]very audio or video recording made and retained by law enforcement using a body camera or vehicle camera” to be “criminal investigation records” as defined by K.S.A. 45-217(c).  If law enforcement refuses to disclose the footage under K.S.A. 45-221(a)(10) because it is a criminal investigation record, the public can access such video only through a court order.  However, an individual determined to be “an heir at law,” such as a family member, may also have a right to access such video under K.S.A. 45-254.

    Despite the plain language of the law, after Topeka resident Domonique White was killed by police on September 28, 2017, his family was forced to get a court order to determine that Mr. White’s father was “an heir at law” entitled to see the footage.  It took well over two months to produce what should have been turned over promptly.

    As a result, the legislature introduced 2018 SB 361 and 2018 HB 2571.  Of all the proposals in those bills, the legislature adopted, and Governor Jeff Coyler signed, an amendment to K.S.A. 45-254.  As of July 1, 2018, pursuant to 2018 K.S.A. 45-254(b), law enforcement agencies “shall allow the person [requesting access to the footage] to listen to the requested audio recording or to view the requested video recording within 20 days after making the request.”

    In 2021, the Sedgwick County District Court held that the city of Wichita violated KORA when it refused to disclose certain body camera footage on the basis that such footage was not in the “public interest.”  See Memorandum Decision, Wichita Eagle and Beacon Publishing Company v. City of Wichita, 17 CV 2745.  With regard to one of the claims in the case, involving a failure to disclose body camera footage of an officer allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident, the court found that such event “is a matter of public interest because the community at large has an expectation that police investigations will be conducted fairly and appropriately, especially when a police officer is implicated.”  Id.  The other incident involved in the case, where an Iraqi-American family was wrongly detained at a bank, the court found that “‘The Bank Incident’ is a matter of public interest because it became an issue of public controversy.”  The court ordered disclosure of the videos.

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  • Kentucky

    Generally open, notwithstanding exceptions listed in Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.168.

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  • Maine

    Access to police video records is controlled by the Intelligence and Investigative Record Information Act. 16 M.R.S.A. §§ 801-809.

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  • Michigan

    The Body-Worn Camera Privacy Act of 2017 (“BWCPA”) became effective on January 8, 2018.  Section 3(2) of that act, codified at MCL 780.313, provides that, “Except as otherwise provided in section 4 and subject to section 5, a recording recorded by a law enforcement officer with a body-worn camera that is recorded in a private place is exempt from disclosure under the freedom of information act.” Section 3(1) incorporates certain privacy protections of the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim's Rights Act, MCL 780.758 et seq.

    Subject to those and other applicable FOIA privacy protections, section 4 of the BWCPA, MCL  780.314, permits the following persons to “request a copy of an audio and video recording recorded by a law enforcement officer with a body-worn camera in a private place:

    (a) An individual who is the subject of the audio and video recording.

    (b) An individual whose property has been seized or damaged in relation to a crime to which the audio and video recording is related.

    (c) A parent of an individual who is less than 18 years of age described in subdivision (a) or (b).

    (d) A legal guardian of an individual described in subdivision (a) or (b).

    (e) An attorney who represents an individual described in subdivision (a) or (b).

    Section 5 of the BWCPA, MCL 780.315, provides that body camera footage retained in connection with an ongoing law enforcement investigation is not a public record and is exempt from FOIA, but only to the extent that disclosure would cause one of several listed harms. The same provision clarifies that, as with other public records, body camera footage cannot be obtained through FOIA when the requestor is in active civil litigation with the agency.

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  • New Mexico

    These are public except for the portions of law enforcement records subject to the exemption set forth in NMSA 1978 §14-2-1(D).

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  • Oklahoma

    Body camera footage and dashcam videos are public records under the Oklahoma Open Records Act subject to few limitations and exceptions. 51 O.S. § 24A.8(A)(9-(10).

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  • Vermont

    A public record includes “any written or recorded information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which is produced or acquired in the course of public agency business.” 1 V.S.A. § 317(b).  Thus, police videos would constitute public records under the Public Records Act.  Indeed, the Vermont Supreme Court recently analyzed a public records request to inspect body camera footage from the Burlington Police Department, see Doyle v. City of Burlington Police Dep't, 2019 VT 66, ¶ 2, and the Burlington Police Department’s Department Directive on Body Worn Camera Systems contemplates that requests for copies of videos will be made pursuant to the Public Records Act.  See https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/sites/default/ files/Police/files/

    DD14.1%20-%20Body%20Worn%20Camera%20Systems.pdf for more information.

    Any requests for police video, are, however, subject to the list of exemptions contained in 1 V.S.A. § 317(c), including: 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(5) (records dealing with the detection and investigation of crime) and 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(14) (records relevant to an ongoing litigation in which the public agency is a party of record).

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  • Virginia

    See discussion of criminal investigative files.

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  • Washington

    Police body worn camera recordings are subject to disclosure except to the extent necessary to protect a person’s “right to privacy,” under a modified version of the privacy test discussed above. Certain types of recordings are presumed to be “highly offensive,” including depictions showing the inside of medical facilities and residences, intimate images, minors and the body of a deceased person. RCW 42.56.240(14).  Public records requests for bodycam footage must also specify a particular individual involved in an incident, a specific officer, or the incident’s time and location. Id.

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  • Wisconsin

    Police videos are available for inspection, subject to the balancing test. A Legislative Council Study Committee recommended legislation on body cameras, but it has not passed the legislature.

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