San Jose police required to expedite release of body cam footage

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – San Jose police are now required to expedite the public release of police body camera footage of high profile cases.

City Council approved the new policy Tuesday night.

Instead of police having the final say, it is now up to city leaders to decide what footage will be released.

This is the police body camera video that prompted a new policy in San Jose to quickly release body-camera footage, approved Tuesday night.

The new policy comes after a push from Mayor Sam Liccardo requesting police video of this incident from a May protest in San Jose sparked by the death of George Floyd.

“I think it’s important for us to get a policy in place so we can rapidly respond when there is public inquiry for video footage and hopefully this will be another step in our effort to build trust with the community,” Liccardo said.

It took San Jose police four months to release the footage of the protest — A delay civil rights attorney John Burris says is too long.

“That really is a delay, one that’s an intentional delay for whatever reasons. Sometimes it’s about trying to make sure that the liability issues if there are any have been clearly vetted, one that gives the police department the opportunity to sort of detail the story to control the story,” Burris said.

Assembly Bill 748 requires police to publicly release body-worn camera footage with audio within 45 days of a critical incident – unless there’s an ongoing investigation.

Senate Bill 1421 compels officers to release confidential records, including body-camera footage from high-profile use-of-force cases like shootings or other cases of misconduct.

Under the new San Jose policy, police are required to publish at least 10 minutes of footage prior to the incident in question.

“To trust the police you need to know that they are giving information out to you quickly and truthfully and the video camera seems to be the best evidence that one can have,” Burris said.

While the other laws are left up to police discretion, the new policy would now be up to the San Jose city attorney and city manager – who the police chief reports to.

“Generally the release of videos are subject to the public records act. There are times when the district attorney is doing an investigation and has requested that we not release that information so all of those things are taken into account,” San Jose City Attorney Nora Frimann said.

The San Jose Police Department released a statement regarding the decision, which can be read here.

The new policy is active as of now.

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