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

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  • Alabama

    Something Extra Publishing, Inc. v. Mack permitted restricting access to body camera footage, when such footage constitutes an “investigative record”under Ala. Code § 12-21-3.1. 350 So. 3d 663, 663 (Ala. 2021).  Under a law passed in June 2023, an individual or personal representative thereof who appears in a body camera or dash camera video may send a written request to law enforcement to view relevant portions of the video, but the individual is forbidden from recording or copying the video if police choose to disclose it. 2023 Alabama House Bill No. 289.  Additionally, the law does not obligate law enforcement to release the record, nor does it require law enforcement to provide requesters a reason for denial.  See id.; Mike Cason, Alabama’s New Law on Police Body Camera Videos Does Not Require Public Disclosure, AL.com (June 22, 2023).

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  • Alaska

    Though municipal and state law enforcement agencies have their own policies regarding access to body-worn camera footage, there is no state-level statute governing access.  Alaska’s open records law provides, however, that the public has a right to inspect law enforcement records–including, presumably, body camera footage–unless such inspection “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings”; “would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication”; “could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a suspect, defendant, victim, or witness”; “could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source”; “would disclose confidential techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions”; “would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law”; or “could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.”  Alaska Stat. Ann. § 40.25.120.

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  • Arizona

    Arizona does not have a specific statute that governs access to body-worn camera footage, though footage has been made available by individual departments, often for a fee.  Additionally, Arizona Rev. Stat. § 39-121.04 bars disclosure of any law enforcement record that “visually depicts the image of a witness under eighteen years of age or a victim as defined in A.R.S. § 13-4401,” unless “disclosure outweighs the witness’s or victim’s right to privacy.”

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  • Arkansas

    Arkansas law provides that body-worn camera footage “that depicts or records the death of a law enforcement officer is confidential and exempt from disclosure,” unless the requester is a family member of the deceased officer.  Ark. Code Ann. § 12-6-701.  Otherwise, body-worn camera footage should generally be subject to disclosure, provided it is not a record consisting of or containing “[u]ndisclosed investigations by law enforcement agencies of suspected criminal activity.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105(b)(6).  

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  • California

    • Body-worn camera recordings of critical incidents–including those involving the discharge of a firearm by a peace officer or custodial officer and incidents in which the use of force by a peace or custodial officer against a person results in death or great bodily injury–are public, unless disclosure would interfere with an ongoing investigation or “violate the reasonable expectation of privacy of a subject depicted in the recording.”  Cal. Gov't Code § 7923.625.  If the recording threatens to interfere with an ongoing investigation, it may only be withheld for 45 days (subject to further extension).  Id.  A recording of a critical incident can be withheld if the privacy interests of the subject outweigh the public interest in disclosure.  Id.  However, if the subject themselves, their representative, or legal guardian requests disclosure, the recording may be released, privacy interests notwithstanding.  Id.   
    • In National Lawyers Guild v. Hayward, the California Supreme Court held that the city could not charge requesters for time spent redacting exempt information from body camera footage.  464 P.3d 594, 596–97 (2020).  The court reasoned that while “[r]edacting exempt footage can be time-consuming and costly,” there was no applicable provision of the California Public Records Act that would “provide a basis for charging requesters for the costs of redacting government records kept in an electronic format, including digital video footage.”  Id. at 608.
    • The Sixth District Court of Appeal has found that there is no duty for agencies to preserve “all documents responsive to a public records request that have been withheld” for three years, including the body-worn camera footage at issue in that case.  City of Gilroy v. Superior Ct. of Santa Clara Cnty., 96 Cal. App. 5th 818, 314 Cal. Rptr. 3d 681, 695–97 (2023).  Body-worn camera footage need only be retained for a minimum of sixty days, Pen. Code, § 832.18, subd. (b)(5)(A), or for a minimum of 2 years if the footage depicts “officer use of force or officer involved shootings,” “an arrest or detention of an individual,” or “recordings relevant to a complaint against a law enforcement agency or officer.”  Id.  Though the Penal Code expressly states that these provisions may not limit the public’s right of access under the CPRA, agencies are not obligated to deviate from the retention schedule outlined in the Penal Code, and “the CPRA does not govern the retention of public records.”  Id.

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  • Colorado

    • Colorado Revised Statute § 24-31-902, which went into effect in 2023, sets out state policies for body-worn cameras.  The retention schedule for body-worn camera recordings is set by each law enforcement agency in compliance with Colorado state archives’ rules.  C.R.S. § 24-31-902(1)(b).  
    • When there is any “complaint of peace officer misconduct by another peace officer, a civilian, or nonprofit organization” that is reported to the officer’s law enforcement agency, the agency or Colorado state police must release any and all unedited body-worn camera videos of the incident within 21 days after receiving the request.  C.R.S. § 24-31-902(2)(a).  If there are any criminal charges “filed against any party to the incident, that party must file any constitutional objection to release of the recording in the pending criminal case before the twenty-one-day period expires.”  C.R.S. § 24-31-902(2)(c).  The 21 day period tolls from the date of appointment of counsel, entry of appearance, or election to proceed pro se in instances where there is a pending criminal investigation of any party to the incident.  Id.  
    • There are myriad additional provisions that apply when there is a complaint of police officer misconduct.  First, any body-worn camera footage depicting a death must be provided, upon request, to the spouse, parent, legal guardian, child, etc., or other lawful representative of the victim.  At least 72 hours prior to public disclosure, the agency must notify the victim’s next-of-kin of their right to receive and review the footage.  C.R.S. § 24-31-902(b)(I)
    • In connection with a complaint of misconduct, any video raising “substantial privacy concerns for criminal defendants, victims, witnesses, juveniles, or informants”--including videos involving a mental health crisis, any personal information of an individual not arrested, charged or cited, and gruesome bodily injury “unless the injury was caused by a peace officer”--must be blurred “to protect the substantial privacy interest while still allowing public release.”  C.R.S. § 24-31-902(b)(II)(A).  In such an instance, footage may be unblurred only with the written authorization of the victim, or if they are deceased, their next-of-kin.  Id.  Additionally, if blurring alone cannot protect the privacy interests at stake, but the victim depicted in body-worn camera footage or their next-of-kin requests the footage, law enforcement must release the footage–upon request–to those person(s) within 20 days of receiving a complaint of misconduct.  C.R.S. § 24-31-902(b)(II)(B).  If the footage is not released to the public because blurring cannot adequately protect substantial privacy interests, the agency must notify the individual(s) whose privacy interests are implicated within twenty days of receiving a complaint of misconduct and must tell the individual(s) of their right to waive the privacy protection and allow for publication.  Id.  Finally, if a witness, victim, or criminal defendant waives, in writing, their right to privacy and provides law enforcement with the waiver and a request for release, law enforcement “may not redact or withhold release to protect that privacy interest.”  C.R.S. § 24-31-902(b)(II)(C).  
    • When misconduct is alleged, “[a]ny video that would substantially interfere with or jeopardize an active or ongoing investigation may be withheld from the public.”  C.R.S. § 24-31-902(b)(III).  The prosecution must “prepare a written explanation of the interference or jeopardy that justifies the delayed release, contemporaneous with the refusal to release the video.”  Id.  However, the video must be released “no later than forty-five days from the date of the allegation of misconduct,” except when the charged offense(s) are traffic violations–in that case, release can be delayed.  Id.  When the video is actually released, the prosecution must provide the written explanation justifying delayed release to the public.  Id.

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  • Connecticut

    Law enforcement records, including body-worn camera footage, are not subject to disclosure when they were “compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure … would not be in the public interest.”  Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-210.  In Braasch v. Freedom of Information Commission, the Appellate Court of Connecticut confirmed that body-worn camera footage concerning “uncorroborated allegations” of a crime may be withheld as records whose release would not be in the public interest.  218 Conn. App. 488, 514, 292 A.3d 711, 728 (2023).  Body camera footage that depicts “a victim of domestic or sexual abuse”; “a victim of homicide or suicide”; “a deceased victim of an accident, if disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”; or a minor will also not be disclosed under the state Freedom of Information Act.  Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 29-6d(g)(2).  The only exceptions to this rule are if the footage (1) is of a minor and the minor and their guardian consent to disclosure, a police officer is accused of misconduct by the minor or their guardian, and the officer’s legal representative in an investigation of the alleged misconduct requests disclosure to prepare the officer’s defense, or (2) defense counsel for a person charged with a crime requests disclosure in order to prepare a defense. Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 29-6d(g)(2)(c)(ii).

    A police officer who is the subject of an investigation for a disciplinary violation for which there is body-worn camera footage has the right to review the footage, as well as any other footage from the incident where the officer’s likeness or voice appear, in front of their attorney or union representative. Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 29-6d(f)(1).  The footage must be released no “later than forty-eight hours following an officer's review of a recording … or if the officer does not review the recording, not later than ninety-six hours following the initiation of such disciplinary investigation, whichever is earlier.”  Id.  

    If there is a request for disclosure of footage from an incident where the police officer “has not been asked to give a formal statement about the alleged use of force” or where “a disciplinary investigation has not been initiated, any police officer whose image or voice is captured on the recording” may review the footage.  Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 29-6d(f)(1).  “Not later than forty-eight hours following an officer's review of a recording . . ., or if the officer does not review the recording, not later than ninety-six hours following the request for disclosure, whichever is earlier, such recording shall be disclosed to the public ….”  Id

    State body-worn camera guidelines may not require a law enforcement agency to store footage for longer than one year, unless the footage pertains to an ongoing civil, criminal or administrative matter.  Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 29-6d(j).

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  • Delaware

    Delaware mandates its law enforcement officers to wear body-worn cameras while undertaking most police work.  See Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 8402A.  Footage from the cameras is not explicitly subject to disclosure under the state’s public records law.  Still, a public record is broadly defined as “information of any kind, owned, made, used, retained, . . . or otherwise compiled or collected, by any public body, relating in any way to public business, or in any way of public interest,. . . regardless of the physical form or characteristic by which such information is stored, recorded or reproduced.”  Del. Code Ann. tit. 29, § 10002.  However, any records pertaining to ongoing investigations, pending or potential litigation, or files compiled for law enforcement purposes that could pose a danger to welfare and security may be withheld.  Id.  A 2022 opinion by the Delaware Attorney General also found that when body camera footage constitutes an “investigative file”--i.e., a record “compiled for civil or criminal law-enforcement purposes including pending investigative files, pretrial and presentence investigations and child custody and adoption files where there is no criminal complaint at issue”--it may be withheld.  Del. Op. Att'y Gen. 22-IB43 (2022).  The exemption attaches to body camera recordings as soon as law enforcement receives “initial notice of a potential issue,” ostensibly encompassing a significant portion of body camera video.  Id.  

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  • District of Columbia

    The D.C. Act specifies that “[a]ny body-worn camera recordings recorded by the Metropolitan Police Department” may be exempt from disclosure if they are taken “[i]nside a personal residence” or “[r]elate[] to an incident involving domestic violence . . ., stalking . . ., or sexual assault.” D.C. Code Ann. § 2-534(a)(2A)(A)-(B)See also United States v. Kingsbury, 325 F. Supp. 3d 158, 160 (D.D.C. 2018) (noting that “the D.C. Code and the regulations promulgated thereunder by the Metropolitan Police Department . . . embod[y] a ‘policy judgment’ that body-worn camera materials ‘tend to contain information that implicates privacy concerns’”) (citing United States v. Johnson, 314 F. Supp. 3d 248, 257 (D.D.C. 2018)). 

    D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24 § 3902.5(a)–(b) further specify that the subject of body-worn camera footage– or their legal representative – may view the footage only after filing a FOIA request, and only if individual privacy rights or safety of another subject of the footage would not be imperiled.  Any other requests for footage must be made via FOIA, and must be made to MPD.  D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24 § 3902.3, 3902.6.  

    However, in some instances, the mayor has an affirmative duty to publicly release body camera footage. Pursuant to D.C. Code Ann. § 5-116.33(c), the mayor must do so within five days of an officer-involved death or an incident involving serious use of force. Under § 5-116.33, the mayor must release the names and camera recordings of all officers directly involved, as well as a description of the incident. The law also gives the mayor discretion to release certain recordings that would otherwise be exempt under FOIA.  D.C. Code Ann. § 5-116.33(c)(2)(B).  However, recordings may be withheld if the decedent’s next of kin or the victim of serious force informs the mayor that they do not consent to release.  D.C. Code Ann. § 5-116.33(c)(3)(A)(i)–(ii). 

    Before the mayor releases body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved death, MPD must “[c]onsult with an organization with expertise in trauma and grief on best practices” for allowing the decedent’s family to view the footage prior to its release.  D.C. Code Ann. § 5-116.33(d)(1).  

    Finally, the mayor must maintain a database on MPD’s website of all names and body-worn camera recordings of officers involved in someone’s death since the body camera program was launched in 2014.  D.C. Code Ann. § 5-116.33(c)(2)(A)(ii).

    D.C.’s police union challenged the mandatory release of body camera footage as an unwarranted invasion of officers’ “fundamental right” to privacy. See Fraternal Order of Police Metro. Police Dep’t Lab. Comm. v. Dist. of Columbia, 290 A.3d 29, 44 (D.C. 2023). The D.C. Court of Appeals rejected the argument, pointing to the First Amendment interests at play, as well as officers’ reduced expectations of privacy while on the job. Id.; see also Advisory Opinion D.C. Office of Open Government, OOG-002-10.1.19-AO (Nov. 5, 2020) (non-binding) (finding that the police may not redact indications of officer identity or business addresses from body-worn camera footage on the grounds of protecting officer privacy).

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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).

    A video recording of the killing of an officer in the line of duty, a minor, or a victim of mass violence is exempt from disclosure except when next-of-kin want to view the video.  Fla. Stat. Ann. § 119.071(2)(p)(2)(b)

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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).  See The Augusta Press v. Roundtree, 368 Ga. App. 64, 888 S.E. 2d 267 (2023) (body-camera audio or video is not subject to release if but for law enforcement’s presence for a pending investigation it is made in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, e.g., a home).

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  • Hawaii

    Hawaii does not have statewide legislation regarding body-worn cameras.  However, under H.R.S. § 92F-13, any record constituting an invasion of personal privacy, or threatening to frustrate a legitimate government function, is exempt from disclosure.  In 2021, the Hawaii Office of Information Practices (OIP) issued an opinion declaring, inter alia, that body-worn camera recordings fall within the Uniform Information Practices Act’s definition of “government records.”  No. OIP Letter No. F22-01, 2021 WL 6751762, at *8 (Hawaii A.G. Dec. 22, 2021).  The opinion cautioned that “wholesale withholding of BWC records in every situation” is inappropriate; withholding must be determined case-by-case.  Id. at *10.

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  • Idaho

    Idaho does not have specific laws governing access to body-worn camera records, nor have any state courts dealt with the issue.  However, any recordings sought under the Idaho Public Records Act will not be released if the recordings would: interfere with law enforcement proceedings, invade personal privacy, disclose information about a confidential source, investigative techniques, or procedures, endanger law enforcement personnel, or disclose the identity of a reporting party (absent that party’s consent).  Idaho Code Ann. § 74-124(1).

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  • Illinois

    Under 50 Illinois Compiled Statutes 706/10-20, body-worn camera recordings are not subject to Illinois FOIA disclosure.  There are exceptions, however.  “[A]ny recording which is flagged due to the filing of a complaint, discharge of a firearm, use of force, arrest or detention, or resulting death or bodily harm shall be disclosed.”  50 ILCS 706/10-20(b)(2).  When a recording that is “flagged” for any of these reasons,“due to the filing of a complaint, discharge of a firearm, use of force, arrest or detention, or resulting death or bodily harm,” and where the subject of the video has a reasonable expectation of privacy, the video may be disclosed if the subject is a victim or a witness and law enforcement gets written permission to release it.  50 ILCS 706/10-20(b)(1).  Additionally, upon request, law enforcement must release body-worn camera recordings to the subject of an encounter or their attorney, regardless of whether the video 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. 50 ILCS 706/10-20(b)(3); see also Public Access Opinion 19-001 (available at  https://perma.cc/9G5R-YT6Z) (“The language of the Body Camera Act does not flatly prohibit the disclosure of all body camera recordings that have not been flagged.”).

    If disclosed, the recordings may be redacted “to remove identification of any person that appears on the recording and is not the officer, a subject of the encounter, or directly involved in the encounter.” 50 ILCS 706/10-20.

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  • Indiana

    Indiana Code § 5-14-3-4(b) exempts “investigatory records of law enforcement agencies” from disclosure, but “law enforcement recording[s],” defined under Indiana Code § 5-14-3-2(k) as “audio, visual, or audiovisual recording[s] of a law enforcement activity captured by a camera or other device,” are disclosable.  However, body-worn camera footage that depicts a child committing or as the victim of a crime may not be released “unless . . . a parent, guardian, or custodian of the victim consents in writing to public disclosure of the records.”  Ind. Code § 5-14-3-4(b).  Additionally, if “access to or dissemination of the recording” “creates a significant risk of substantial harm to any person or to the general public,” “is likely to interfere with” a fair trial, “may affect an ongoing investigation,” or “would not serve the public interest,” the recording may be withheld.  Ind. Code § 5-14-3-5.2(a)(2).  Finally, law enforcement must obscure “an individual’s death or a dead body,” acts of “severe violence” resulting in “serious bodily injury” against a clearly visible person, serious bodily injury, personal medical information, and certain other specified sensitive data, and may obscure information that identifies an undercover officer or confidential informant or information the agency may otherwise discretionarily withhold under Indiana Code § 5-14-3-4. Ind. Code § 5-14-3-5.2(e).  

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  • Iowa

    Video recordings may not be subject to disclosure under Iowa Code § 22.7(5) if they are considered “investigative reports.” “Investigative reports” include “not only reports but also other material and evidence incorporated into reports.”  Neer v. State, 798 N.W.2d 349 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011) (unpublished opinion).  Thus, whether a specific recording is subject to disclosure depends on whether the recording is truly “investigative” or merely reveals “the date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding a crime or incident.”  Id.  Though police investigatory reports do not lose their confidential status when the investigation ends, Iowa Code § 22.7(5) allows for  release of 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, 232–34 (Iowa 2019) (noting that in light of “presence of a heightened public interest in police use of force,” public interest favored disclosure).

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  • Kansas

    • The Kansas Legislature addressed access to body-worn camera 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,” and therefore undisclosable.  See K.S.A. 45-217(e).  However, an individual depicted in the recording, a family member, an individual determined to be “an heir at law,” or an attorney for any such person may also have a right to access such video under K.S.A. 45-254(c).  
    • If law enforcement refuses to disclose body-worn camera footage because it constitutes a criminal investigation record, the public can access such video only through a court order if the court finds that disclosure “is in the public interest,” “would not interfere with any prospective law enforcement action, criminal investigation or prosecution,” would not reveal the identities of any undercover officers or confidential informants or investigative techniques, would not endanger anyone’s life or safety, and would not reveal personal information of a victim of a sex crime.  K.S.A. 45-221(a)(10).  An agency may also use its discretion to disclose a video recording on the same grounds, and must provide “a written citation to the specific provisions of [K.S.A. 45-221(a)(10)]” that justify the discretionary disclosure.  Id. 
    • 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 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; 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 Publ’g Co. 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. at 13.  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.”  Id. at 14.  The court also reiterated that “K.S.A. 45-221(a)(10)(B) allows for the disclosure of criminal investigation records to the extent that such disclosure will not interfere with prospective law enforcement action, criminal investigations or prosecution.”  Id. at 16.  Ultimately, the court ordered disclosure of the videos.

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  • Kentucky

    • Law enforcement has discretion to withhold body-worn camera footage that: shows the interior of a “private residence where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy,” absent written consent of the resident; shows the inside of a medical facility; would disclose HIPAA-protected health information; shows the inside of a correctional facility and would jeopardize safety at the facility; contains nudity or is sexual in nature; shows a minor; shows the body of a deceased person; would reveal confidential informant or undercover identities; shows a domestic violence shelter; would reveal FERPA-protected information; involves care of a mentally ill individual; depicts the serious injury or death of an officer; or “[i]ncludes footage made in conjunction with a law enforcement exercise that includes special response team actions, hostage negotiations, or training events,” but only where the release of tactics/protocols would disadvantage the capability of public safety officers to successfully respond in emergency situations.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.168(4).
    • Videos that show use of force, incidents leading to a detention or arrest, or incidents that are the subject of a complaint submitted against an officer, are subject to the standard exceptions contained in the Kentucky Open Records Act.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.168(5)(a)–(c).  Among the exceptions are records “compiled in the process of detecting and investigating statutory or regulatory violations if the disclosure of the information would harm the agency by revealing the identity of informants not otherwise known or by premature release of information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action or administrative adjudication.”  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.878.  Absent additional exceptions, records compiled during an investigation are to be opened “after enforcement action is completed or a decision is made to take no action; however, records or information compiled and maintained by county attorneys or Commonwealth's attorneys pertaining to criminal investigations or criminal litigation shall be exempted … and shall remain exempted after enforcement action, including litigation, is completed or a decision is made to take no action.”  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.878. 
    • Records that are “requested by a person . . . or the personal representative [there]of . . . that is directly involved in the incident contained in the body-worn camera recording … shall be made available . . . for viewing on the premises of the public agency, but the public agency shall not be required to make a copy of the recording” unless the requester is an attorney representing a depicted party.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.168(5)(d); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.169.  
    • The Kentucky Attorney General has issued guidance on the interpretation of the Kentucky Open Records Act as it applies to body-worn camera footage, among which the most recent and important guidance is cited below (though no such opinions are binding on courts).  In the most recent opinion, the Attorney General stated: “[I]f body-camera footage depicts an incident leading to the arrest of a person, then a law enforcement agency must cite an exemption under KRS 61.878(1) to support denial of the footage, not a provision of KRS 61.168.”  Ky. Op. Att’y Gen. 23-ORD-324 (2023).  Furthermore, when law enforcement relies on KRS 61.878, it must show that there is a “concrete risk … something more than a hypothetical or speculative concern” that harm would result from disclosure.  Id.; City of Fort Thomas v. Cincinnati Enquirer, 406 S.W.3d 842, 851 (Ky. 2013).  Finally, law enforcement must articulate “a significant personal privacy interest” in body-worn camera footage under Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.878(1)(a) in order to support withholding such footage–mere recitation of the statute is not sufficient to meet this burden.  Id.  
    • In Opinion 22-ORD-132, the Attorney General found that where a law enforcement agency uses its discretion under Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.168(4) to permit a requester to inspect body-worn camera footage, the agency may not then require the requester to view the footage at the agency’s facility pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.168(5)(d).  Ky. Op. Att'y Gen. 22-ORD-132 (2022).  “Stated another way, an agency's discretion under KRS 61.168(4) is all or nothing. If the video may be inspected, then it may be inspected like any other record, including by providing copies.”  Id.  
    • In an unpublished opinion, the Kentucky Court of Appeals considered whether the privacy exemption under Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 61.878(1)(a) applied to body-worn camera footage of a fatal accident.  Courier-J., Inc. v. Shively Police Dep't, No. 2021-CA-1120-MR, 2022 WL 16842295, at *10–13 (Ky. Ct. App. Nov. 10, 2022).  Weighing the privacy interests of the involved individuals against the public interest in disclosure, the court found that the footage was not “personal in nature,” that any personal portions could be blurred without withholding the footage in its entirety, id. at 11, and that “any limited privacy interest that the deceased person's relatives may have in such a depiction will generally give way to the public interest in favor of disclosure and, in any event, cannot be asserted by the holding agency in the absence of those relatives coming forward to oppose the release of such depictions,” id. at 12.  
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  • Louisiana

    • Video or audio recordings generated by an officer’s body-worn cameras that are found by the custodian to violate an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy are exempt; otherwise, police video is subject to the Public Records Law.  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:3(a)(8).  Under the remaining provisions of the Public Records Law, personal information of a police officer is not subject to disclosure absent the officer’s consent, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:2532.  In one Louisiana court, a judge ordered the Louisiana State Police to release to a news outlet body-worn camera footage depicting an off-duty police officer’s traffic stop, rejecting the agency’s claims of officer privacy concerns. 
    • Additionally, records pertaining to pending or anticipated criminal litigation, “until such litigation has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled” may not be disclosed, nor those records that contain identifying information for a confidential source.  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:3.  
    • When requesting body-worn camera recordings, the requester must provide “incident specific” details, including “reasonable specificity as to the date, time, location, or persons involved”; a request may be denied if the requester is not sufficiently specific.  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:3. 

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  • Maine

    Maine does not have body-worn camera specific laws.  Generally, access to police video records is controlled by the Intelligence and Investigative Record Information Act. 16 M.R.S.A. §§ 801-809.  Those records that “contain[] intelligence and investigative record information … may not be disseminated by a Maine criminal justice agency to any person or public or private entity if” there are risks including: interference with criminal or civil legal proceedings, invasions of privacy, disclosure of confidential sources or information, potential endangerment of law enforcement or others, or disclosure of investigative techniques, among other risks.  16 M.R.S.A. § 804.

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  • Maryland

    Under M.D.G.P. § 4-101, “a recording” that is “made by a unit or an instrumentality of the State or of a political subdivision,” or received by one while transacting public business, is a “public record.”  There are several instances in which denial of body-worn camera footage would be permissible pursuant to M.D.G.P. § 4-351(b), such as when inspection the records would “interfere with a valid and proper law enforcement proceeding; deprive another person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication; constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; disclose the identity of a confidential source; disclose an investigative technique or procedure; prejudice an investigation; or endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.”  M.D.G.P. § 4-351(a)(4) also permits records custodians to discretionarily withhold records–presumably including body-worn camera footage–“relating to an administrative or criminal investigation of misconduct by a police officer … .”  Custodians are furthermore required to redact any records of police misconduct as described in M.D.G.P. § 4-351(a)(4) of medical, personal contact, family, or witness information.  While there are restrictions on body-worn camera footage access, police departments in the state appear to make such footage available to request

    Maryland courts have not decided any issues regarding M.P.I.A. access to body-worn camera footage, but the legislature has contemplated codifying certain access principles for these records.  In April 2023, a bill died in the Maryland House which sought to exclude from disclosure those parts of body-worn camera recordings that captured domestic violence victims, crime victims, and death of a law enforcement officer, among other situations.  The bill also proposed that every individual who is a subject of or directly involved in the recording, or otherwise represents such a person, shall have the right to inspect the footage. 

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  • Massachusetts

    In Massachusetts, there is no body-worn camera specific disclosure statute.   Under Massachusetts’ general public records statute, however, body-worn camera footage is considered a public record.  Mass. Gen. Laws 4 § 7(26).  Recordings that comprise “investigatory materials necessarily compiled out of the public view by law enforcement or other investigatory officials,” where disclosure “would probably so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement [and] would not be in the public interest,” may, however, be withheld.  Mass. Gen. Laws 4 § 7(26)(f).  Local civil society organizations and advocates hope that Massachusetts will implement new law clarifying law enforcement’s disclosure obligations in 2024, given the inconsistency across law enforcement agencies’ policies and the frequency with which agencies decline to produce footage on the grounds that such recordings are “investigatory.”  

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  • Michigan

    The Body-Worn Camera Privacy Act of 2017 (“BWCPA”), codified at MCL 780.311 et seq., went into effect on January 8, 2018.  Section 3(1) of MCL 780.313 incorporates certain privacy protections of the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim's Rights Act, MCL 780.758 et seq.  Section 3(2) of MCL 780.313, provides that a recording made by a law enforcement officer with a body-worn camera in a private place is exempt from disclosure under the freedom of information act. 

    However, 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)-(d) A parent/legal guardian of an individual who is less than 18 years of age described in subdivision (a) or (b).
      • (e) An attorney who represents an individual described in subdivision (a) or (b).

    Additionally, MCL 780.315 provides that body-worn camera footage retained in connection with an ongoing law enforcement investigation is exempt from FOIA, but only to the extent that disclosure would cause one of several listed harms, including interfering with law enforcement proceedings, depriving someone of the right to a fair trial, constituting an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, disclosing the identities of confidential sources or investigative techniques, disclosing certain information about a crime victim, and endangering the life or physical safety of officers.  The same provision clarifies that, as with other public records, body-worn camera footage cannot be obtained through FOIA when the requester is in active civil litigation with the agency from which they are requesting.

    MCL 780.316 also requires that law enforcement keep body-worn camera audio and video for no fewer than three years after the recording was made if the recording “is relevant to a formal complaint against a law enforcement officer or agency.”

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  • Minnesota

    • Videos from body-worn cameras are generally considered “investigative data” and are therefore confidential / nonpublic while the investigation is active.  Minn. Stat. § 13.82, subd. 7.  However, when investigations become inactive, the footage may become public “unless the release of the data would jeopardize another ongoing investigation or would reveal the identity of individuals protected by [subdivision 17 of Minnesota Statutes § 13.82].”  Id.  
    • “Once the investigation becomes inactive … inactive body camera data are” released pursuant to the provisions in Minnesota Statutes § 13.825.  Advisory Opinion 20-004, 2020 WL 3966033, at *3.  Under Minnesota Statutes § 13.825, “when an individual dies as a result of a use of force by a peace officer, an involved officer's law enforcement agency must allow the following individuals, upon their request, to inspect all portable recording system data, redacted no more than what is required by law, documenting the incident within five days of the request”: the deceased individual’s next of kin, a legal representative of next of kin, and the deceased individual’s child’s other parent.  Minn. Stat. § 13.825, subd. 2(b).  Even so, if law enforcement identifies a compelling reason that inspection would harm an ongoing investigation, it may deny the request.  Additionally, when an individual dies by police use of force, the footage of the incident must be made public within fourteen days after its occurrence, unless the chief law enforcement officer asserts in writing that disclosure would interfere with an ongoing investigation. Minn. Stat. § 13.825, subd. 2(d). 
    • Furthermore, body-worn camera footage documenting “actions and circumstances surrounding either the discharge of a firearm by a peace officer in the course of duty … or the use of force by a peace officer that results in substantial bodily harm” are public. Minn. Stat. § 13.825, subd. 2(a)(1). The subject of such a recording may also request that the data be made public, barring lack of consent from others appearing in the video (except police officers) and taking care to redact any police officer information that raises privacy concerns.  Minn. Stat. § 13.825, subd. 2(a)(2).  
    • Those videos that are “clearly offensive to common sensibilities,” even if otherwise public or disclosable, may be withheld by the law enforcement agency to which the request was directed.  Minn. Stat. § 13.825, subd. 2(e). 
    • Any body-worn camera footage that is shown in court is public.  Minn. Stat. § 13.82, subd. 7(c). The Attorney General’s Advisory Opinion 22-003, though nonbinding, found that when body-camera data are presented in open court, it is of no importance that a criminal investigation is ongoing for open records purposes–the data become public.  2022 WL 2334601, at *2–3.  
    • Also, if body-worn camera footage is part of an active investigation, “any person may bring an action in the district court located in the county where the data are being maintained to authorize disclosure of investigative data.”  Minn. Stat. § 13.82, subd. 7(c).  In such a case, the court must determine “whether the benefit to the person bringing the action or to the public outweighs any harm to the public, to the agency or to any person identified in the data.”  Id.  
    • Law enforcement agencies may discretionarily release otherwise private or nonpublic records “if the agency determines that the access will aid the law enforcement process, promote public safety, or dispel widespread rumor or unrest.”  Minn. Stat. § 13.82, subd. 15.
    • Law enforcement must withhold body-worn camera records that would reveal undercover identities of police officers, victims of sexual crimes, informants, victims or witnesses (“unless the agency reasonably determines that revealing the identity of the victim or witness would not threaten the personal safety or property of the individual”), someone who called 911, a juvenile witness, a mandated reporter, or a deceased person whose body was removed from a cemetery. Minn. Stat. § 13.82, subd. 17.

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  • Mississippi

    Under Mississippi law, “public records” include “any … documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics,” and the term “investigative report” includes records that could reveal the identities of confidential informants, would hamper investigatory or prosecutorial activities, and disclose law enforcement’s investigatory techniques, among other things.  Miss. Code § 25-61-3(b), (f).  There is little law on the status of body-worn camera access, but the Mississippi Attorney General has noted that there is no retention policy in place for body-worn camera footage.  2015 WL 5462193, at *1 (Miss. A.G. Aug. 21, 2015).

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  • Missouri

    • Missouri terms body-worn camera footage “mobile video recordings,” see Mo. Ann. Stat. § 610.100.1(6)–(7).  Mobile video recordings “are closed records until the investigation [to which they correspond] becomes inactive.”  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 610.100.2(2).  However, a recording taken in a nonpublic location is available to an individual whose voice is in the recording, or a legal guardian, family member, insurer, or attorney of such an individual, upon written request.  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 610.100.2(4).  
    • Even when a mobile video recording becomes public, law enforcement may nevertheless withhold the recording or portions thereof if it “contains information that is reasonably likely to pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any victim, witness, undercover officer, or other person; or jeopardize a criminal investigation, including records which would disclose the identity of a source wishing to remain confidential or a suspect not in custody; or … would disclose techniques, procedures or guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.”  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 610.100.3. 
    • Any person may challenge law enforcement’s withholding of a mobile video recording in court.  In evaluating the challenger’s claim, the court must look at “whether the benefit to the person bringing the action or to the public outweighs any harm to the public, to the law enforcement agency or any of its officers, or to any person identified in the investigative report in regard to the need for law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate and prosecute criminal activity.”  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 610.100.5(2).  The court also must consider “[w]hether the mobile video recording contains information that is reasonably likely to disclose private matters in which the public has no legitimate concern”; “[w]hether the mobile video recording is reasonably likely to bring shame or humiliation to a person of ordinary sensibilities”; and “[w]hether the mobile video recording was taken in a place where a person recorded or depicted has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 610.100.5(3).
    • Finally, according to Missouri's law:

    [A]ny person who requests and receives a mobile video recording that was recorded in a nonpublic location . . . is prohibited from displaying or disclosing the mobile video recording, including any description or account [there]of . . . without first providing direct third-party notice to each person not affiliated with a law enforcement agency . . . whose image or sound is contained in the recording, and affording, upon receiving such notice, each person appearing and whose image or sound is contained in the mobile video recording no less than ten days to file and serve an action seeking an order from a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin . . . the intended display, disclosure, description, or account of the recording. Any person who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection is subject to damages in a civil action proceeding.

    Mo. Ann. Stat. § 610.100.  This provision of the law has not yet been challenged on constitutional grounds.

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  • Montana

    Montana does not have law that addresses access to body-worn camera footage.  “Confidential criminal justice information” includes investigative and intelligence information, and “criminal justice information” includes “information relating to criminal justice collected, processed, or preserved by a criminal justice agency”; both types of data could ostensibly encompass body-worn camera footage, and could therefore be withheld from the public. Mont. Code Ann. § 44-5-103(3), 44-5-103(8).  

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  • Nebraska

    “Records developed or received by law enforcement agencies and other public bodies” in the course of investigations, for intelligence purposes, pursuant to citizen complaints, with respect to law enforcement training, or in the course of identifying an informant are exempt from disclosure, presumably including records constituting body-worn camera footage.  Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 84-712.05(5).  However, it is incumbent upon the agency to release any “reasonably segregable public portion of a record,” meaning that exempt body-worn camera footage must be redacted and the rest released, where appropriate.  Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 84-712.06.  As recently as 2023, Nebraska lawmakers led a push to enact legislation that would significantly expand public access to body-worn camera footage through the state’s public records law, though the bill was not passed. 

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  • Nevada

    All body-worn camera footage is presumptively public, but may only be released pursuant to a request and, “if the record contains confidential information that may not otherwise be redacted,” the requester must view the record “only at the location where the record is held.”  Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 289.830(2).  The Supreme Court of Nevada has found that body camera footage “is subject to both the NPRA and any confidentiality provisions limiting public disclosure.”  Conrad v. Reno Police Dep’t, 530 P.3d 851, 856 (2023).  As such, reading Nevada Revised Statute § 289.025(1) providing for officer confidentiality in concert with the Nevada Public Records Act, the court found that a police department “appropriately redacted body camera footage to protect the confidential nature of the information …,” namely officers' faces, from body-worn camera footage.  Conrad, 530 P.3d at 857.  In another case, the Nevada Supreme Court again found that confidentiality provisions protecting juvenile information superseded a requester’s right to access the footage.  Republican Att’ys Gen. Ass’n v. Las Vegas Metro. Pol. Dep’t, 458 P.3d 328, 355 (2020).  There, the court conceded that “[u]nder a different set of facts, a governmental entity may be able to separate confidential periods of bodycam footage from substantial nonconfidential periods or blur the occasional juvenile's face to redact or otherwise edit out confidential material,” but that in the case before it, the requested footage was “inextricably commingled with the confidential juvenile justice information,” making the footage confidential and therefore not subject to disclosure.  Id.  

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  • New Hampshire

    Under New Hampshire law, “[v]ideo and audio recordings made by a law enforcement officer using a body-worn camera” are exempt from disclosure unless they depict (1) an officer using restraint or force, unless releasing that portion of the recording would “constitute an invasion of privacy of any person” or is otherwise exempt; (2) discharge of a firearm, unless that portion would “constitute an invasion of privacy of any person” or is otherwise exempt; and (3) “[a]n encounter that results in an arrest for a felony-level offense,” unless that portion would “constitute an invasion of privacy” or is otherwise exempt.  N.H.S.A. § 91-A:5(X).  An invasion of privacy is analyzed by courts in three steps–(1) whether a privacy interest exists that would be “invaded by the disclosure”; (2) the public interest; (3) balancing the public interest against the privacy interest and the government’s interest in nondisclosure.  Pro. Firefighters of New Hampshire v. Loc. Gov't Ctr., Inc., 159 N.H. 699, 707, 992 A.2d 582, 589–90 (2010).  There is no case law or other administrative material interpreting N.H.S.A. § 91-A:5(X).  

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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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  • North Carolina

    In 2016, the General Assembly enacted G.S. § 132-1.4A to address the proliferation of dashboard and body camera recordings made by law enforcement personnel. The statute makes clear that such recordings are not public records and are not personnel records.

    The statute also lays out the processes to view or obtain a copy of law enforcement recordings. There are two different paths to disclosure – one for individuals whose voice or image appears in the footage and one for individuals whose voice or image does not.

    An individual whose image or voice is in the recording(s) can seek disclosure of the recordings under § 132-1.4A(c), and if denied, ask the court to review the denial.

    A person whose voice or image is not in the recordings (which includes most members of the news media) must petition the court to release the recordings under § 132-1.4A(g).

    A judge hearing petitions for release has an enormous amount of discretion regarding whether to release recordings; how, when, what will be blurred or edited; and other restrictions on release. However, the judge’s ruling must in some way be supported by the record. See In re Custodial Law Enf’t Recording Sought by City of Greensboro, 383 N.C. 261 (2022) (“Because the trial court’s ruling is entirely unsupported by the record, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the City’s motion to modify Restrictions”).

    In addition to any other standard the judge deems relevant, the judge must weigh eight factors in deciding whether to release a portion or all of the requested recordings.

    (1) Release is necessary to advance a compelling public interest.

    (2) The recording contains information that is otherwise confidential or exempt from disclosure or release under State or federal law.

    (3) The person requesting release is seeking to obtain evidence to determine legal issues in a current or potential court proceeding.

    (4) Release would reveal information regarding a person that is of a highly sensitive personal nature.

    (5) Release may harm the reputation or jeopardize the safety of a person.

    (6) Release would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice.

    (7) Confidentiality is necessary to protect either an active or inactive internal or criminal investigation or potential internal or criminal investigation.

    (8) There is good cause shown to release all portions of a recording.

    In response to this statute, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) initially created a series of forms to guide requests for these recordings, and hundreds of petitions for release of law enforcement recordings were filed across the state using the AOC forms. However, in In re Custodial Law Enf’t Agency Recordings (Pasquotank County), 884 S.E.2d 455 (N.C. Ct. App. 2023), the lower court ruled that the media petitioners could not use the AOC form because the statute required the party or parties seeking release under subsection (g) to file an “action,” and that the AOC form was meant to be used only by individuals who appeared in the recordings under subsection (c). The Court of Appeals agreed that if the legislature had intended an AOC form be used in conjunction with these requests for recordings, it would have specifically instructed as such.

    The Court of Appeals wrote that “our legislature intended two different procedures for individuals seeking release of custodial law enforcement recordings: an expedited petition process for certain enumerated individuals, and an ordinary civil action for all others. We hold that [the trial court] properly dismissed Petitioners’ petition for lack of standing because they failed to ‘file an action’ as required by” the statute.

    As of January 2024, the petitioners have asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to review this decision with no response.

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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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  • Oregon

    On behalf of Eugene Weekly and one of its reporters, RCFP attorneys challenged the Eugene Police Dept’s rejection of a public records request seeking BWC video documenting law enforcement’s response to a man experiencing a mental health crisis. The county medical examiner reviewed the BWC footage & determined that “restraint by law enforcement” contributed to the man’s death. Requester argued that the city failed to balance the public’s interest in accessing the video footage against the interest in withholding it. On Aug. 11, 2021, the Lane County DA ordered the Eugene Police Department to produce the BWC video.

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  • Pennsylvania

    In Pennsylvania, access to body worn camera footage is governed by Act 22, not the RTKL.  See 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 67A01 et seq.  Act 22 permits any member of the public and the press to request video and audio recordings created by law enforcement agencies and further allows a right of appeal in the event access is denied.

    Per section 67A04(a) of Act 22, a law enforcement entity may only deny an Act 22 request if the relevant audio or video footage “contains potential evidence in a criminal matter, information pertaining to an investigation or a matter in which a criminal charge has been filed, confidential information[,] or victim information[,] and the reasonable redaction of the audio or video recording would not safeguard” said evidence or information. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 67A04(a).

    To date, only a handful of cases provide precedent on access to footage under Act 22.  Relevant links are below:

    • https://www.rcfp.org/litigation/thompson-v-cumberland-county/ (where Act 22 case settled and journalist was permitted to go to DA's office to review BWC footage)

    • https://www.rcfp.org/litigation/meko-v-city-of-lancaster/ (following negotiations, DA's office coordinated the release of more than a dozen hours of the requested BWC footage)

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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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