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Costly Public-Records Requests May Threaten Seattle PD's Plan for Body Cameras

November 21, 2014  | 

Concerns about broad-reaching public-disclosure requests that officials say could cripple the city of Seattle financially and tie up employees for countless hours may result in the canceling of a plan to outfit Seattle police officers with body cameras.

The city is within weeks of launching a six-month pilot program to outfit 12 officers with body-worn cameras and test two different styles, the Seattle Times reports.

But the plan to equip more than 1,000 officers by 2016 could be shelved due to public-disclosure requests already filed by one anonymous citizen and the expectation of others for access to all the recordings, said Mike Wagers, the Police Department’s chief operating officer.

Already, public officials are citing the need for state legislators to change the law, although a public-records advocate questions the necessity of that.

On Tuesday, the anonymous citizen filed a public-disclosure request with the Police Department seeking daily updates that Wagers said would be virtually impossible for the department to fulfill.

Broad-reaching requests from the same YouTube site called Police Video Requests are also causing two other Washington agencies to rethink their wearable camera programs.

A state law in Washington requires agencies to honor broad-reaching requests for video captured by on-duty officers, even if the request is for everything ever recorded by the agency.

Several law enforcement agencies in the state are asking legislators to change the law to require requests for specific incidents and to allow agencies to deny "blanket" requests.

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

bob (retired leo) @ 11/22/2014 7:59 AM

What happened to the days when a cops word was his bond? Now you need cameras strapped to you to show the public you did your job. So when do the skells get cameras strapped to the them so we can show them robbing and murdering the public? I am so glad I retired. If it was like this retro Id have chosen another carreer.

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