Oklahoma City Police Chief Orders Department To Release Video Earlier

Oklahoma City Police will release body-worn camera footage of many “critical” incidents such as police shootings within 10 days, according to an order issued by the chief.

The new policy fills a loophole that has made it easier for police departments to keep video of controversial incidents from the public for months, despite calls for transparency.

“Basic information is essential and the sooner the better. I think it’s a great start,” Garland Pruitt, Oklahoma City Chapter president of the NAACP, said this month when the group mayor’s work on police reform was briefed on the policy.

“Love it, I need it, late,” said Pruitt.

But a community activist who pleaded before city council for faster disclosure of the images of the murder by police last November of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez said the policy exceptions appear to “fortify” a tendency to deny public access.

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Issued as a directive from the chief, the policy commits to release the body camera video within 10 days or, in the case of a shootout involving an officer, within 10 days of the end of the interview. ‘an investigator with the agent involved.

Oklahoma City Police will promptly release video of "critical" incidents a priority, according to a directive from the chief.

Activist Jess Eddy, in an email Friday, singled out an exception for “legally permitted” footage and the interview exception in his critique of the policy.

In the Rodriguez shooting and the December murder of mentally ill man Bennie Edwards, police made “mistaken” arguments that it was not legally permitted to broadcast video from cameras worn on officers’ bodies. , said Eddy.

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“In both cases, OKCPD denied family and the public the right to review the footage for months,” wrote Eddy, who filed a lawsuit against the city in February for delays in filling out file requests. open for documents related to the police.

“While I would like to see this as a sign of a change in the OKCPD’s respect for the rights of the public to access departmental records,” he wrote in Friday’s email, “I am fully aware that this policy appears to preserve and reinforce OKCPD’s practice of denying the public access to important documents in a timely manner. “

The new policy follows the recommendation of the consultant

Police Chief Wade Gourley released the new policy after 21CP Solutions, the consultant assisting the Mayor’s Task Force on Police Reform, said in a letter that Oklahoma City Police are taking too long to broadcast videos of shootings involving officers.

The consulting firm recommended that the department develop a policy of disseminating body-worn camera images “as soon as possible”.

Gourley instituted the new policy on June 1, about three weeks after the letter arrived.

The 21CP letter indicated that members of the advisory group and the public had expressed common concerns about police transparency “early and often”.

He gave examples of other policies ranging from 72 hours in Seattle to 45 days in the state of California and 21 days in Colorado.

“I think we should post videos as soon as possible to get the real story out without compromising the investigation,” John George, president of the Oklahoma City Police Union, said on Friday.

The official policy statement

City Manager Craig Freeman told members of the Police Reform Task Force he was looking for a reasonable time frame, adding: “We will release the video as quickly as possible.”

Here is the text of the chief’s directive:

“The Oklahoma City Police Department is dedicated to an informed public and maintains a clear context of police interactions with the public, particularly critical incidents ie use of force, shootings involving agents, lawsuits and significant incidents of substantial public interest.

To further promote openness and accountability, the department is committed to disseminating legally authorized body-worn camera videos of these cases within 10 days of the incident, or in the case of an officer involved by bullet, within 10 days of the interview with the officer involved, the department undertakes to provide objective information regarding these critical incidents.

“The Chief reserves the discretion to expedite any publication when necessary to maintain public confidence in the midst of speculation contrary to known facts.”

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