As part of its efforts to regain the public's trust, the Seattle Police Department recently launched a new YouTube page showing videos from body cameras worn by officers. The department plans to upload daily videos and have dozens uploaded thus far. Faces of the public will be redacted, but citizens may request a clearer clip through a public records request. Due to current events, police departments throughout the country are starting to utilize body cameras in the hopes of catching and discouraging police misconduct. The policy is even encouraged by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Specifically, the Seattle PD started testing out their body camera program in 2014, along with several departments throughout Washington State. The program has been embraced by the public, and “no one has asked the officers to turn off the cameras.” Rather, Seattle PD has already gotten indications that it aids with public interactions. According to Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrel, “There is [also] strong council support and budget support for body cameras.” It will cost the city an estimated $407,000 to outfit 680 officers with cameras, but in this instance, the investment may be worth it. It is estimated that it will cost $30,000 per year to store video and maintain the devices.
With body camera video more accessible, it means evidence may be obtained easier to obtain by defense lawyers to aid you in your case. Body cameras when turned on throughout the interaction, will also help indicate whether the Seattle PD acted within their own protocol, whether an unlawful search and seizure occurred, whether police read you your Miranda rights whilst taking you into custody, and whether any of your rights have been violated or whether there has been any police misconduct. The use of cameras may also have implications on the OPA process (“Office of Professional Accountability”) should you want to file an OPA complaint about an officer's breach of conduct.
Public Records Requests
Members of the public as well as attorneys may request records from the Seattle PD through the Seattle PD public records request process. Under the Revised Code of Washington 42.56, all state agencies including police departments have to disclose certain records upon request based on the state's Public Record's Act. Your attorney may also aid you in writing and submitting a more effective request.
As a former prosecutor, criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi knows how police departments and law officials operate, and he understands the protocols that the Seattle PD must abide by every time they interact with a suspect. Mr. Karimi will utilize this knowledge and leverage the newly available body camera footage for your case to figure out the best avenue to advocate for you. If you have been arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or felony, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today to schedule a free initial consultation.