Body Cameras

Police Agencies in New York and Los Angeles Drag Their Feet over Body Camera Footage and Misconduct Records

Efforts to force sunlight into police conduct have been thwarted by noncompliance.

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In Los Angeles and New York City, law enforcement agencies are still resisting efforts to shine a light on individual officer misconduct by withholding body camera footage and ignoring public records requests from media outlets.

In the middle of a massive nationwide push for more police accountability and fewer police officers on the city payroll, Gothamist reports that the New York Police Department (NYPD) is failing to provide body camera footage requested by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB).

The NYPD agreed last November to provide police body camera footage to the CCRB, the only agency in New York independent from the police department empowered to review accusations of police misconduct filed by members of the public.

But as of the end of June, Gothamist reports, the CCRB has not received responses to more than 1,100 requests for body camera footage. At least 40 percent of the requests were more than 90 days old. The agreement between the CCRB and NYPD says the board will receive the footage within 25 days of a request.

As a result of the NYPD not doing its job, CCRB investigators are unable to do theirs. The Gothamist reported the contents of a memo from two leaders in the CCRB's investigation division sent to top staff warning that the situation is untenable: "The struggle for access to [body worn cameras] is the struggle for the future of civilian oversight. In this era of rightfully increased scrutiny of police accountability, we urge the Agency to seize this moment to do everything in its power to obtain unmediated direct access to BWC footage." The memo goes so far as to say that oversight of police has actually gotten worse under this new regime of body-worn cameras because the CCRB isn't able to get footage to perform timely investigations.

Gothamist's reporting also notes that police unions have contributed to the backlog. The agreement says the NYPD can withhold footage from cases in which officers kill or seriously injure someone until the NYPD has completed its own investigation. Officers are also permitted to review their body camera footage before the CCRB interviews them. Prior to June, police unions were declining to allow officers to be interviewed remotely as a COVID-19 precaution.

On the other coast, changes in California public records laws implemented in 2019 were supposed to open up police misconduct records to the public and media. Prior to 2019, state law exempted police personnel records from public records requests.

Yet law enforcement agencies across the state have looked for ways to resist the new policy, attempting to argue (unsuccessfully) that the law wasn't retroactive and didn't apply to records created before the law passed. Some cities even went on a record-shredding spree.

The Los Angeles Times has been seeking discipline records from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) for hundreds of deputies. The paper requested records for 325 deputies—by name, because the department would not cooperate with any records requests that didn't include names. The paper has since received records for exactly two officers.

Last week, the Times filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles to force the LASD to hand over these records. According to their coverage, the LASD isn't just refusing to hand over deputy misconduct records. The department is also withholding information about people who have died in Los Angeles jails and Sheriff Alex Villanueva's daily schedule.

Villanueva has blamed the delay on staffing issues and a lack of funding to comply with S.B. 1421, the bill that required California law enforcement agencies to release police misconduct records.

That obtaining public records in California continues to be nearly impossible more than a year after the legislature required law enforcement agencies to open their filing cabinets does not bode well for police transparency in New York, which reformed its own police records laws in June.

Even when the law makes releasing records mandatory, law enforcement agencies can all but refuse to comply. If the NYPD's body camera backlog is any indication, New York police are still capable of avoiding the disinfecting power of sunlight.

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  1. So why doesn’t the review board create a policy of returning a decision of misconduct if the video is not provided as required?
    Change the 18 month statute of limitations to 18 AFTER any requested footage is provided.
    Or just defund the police!

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    2. Don’t defund the police. Police forces have a couple of centuries of law and precedent limiting their behavior. I suspect that the Statist administrations who are spouting the ‘defund the police’ slogan find that VERY limiting, and would dearly love to replace the police with some security force ostentatiously named something else, which they could then use like the East German Stasi.

      This foot dragging about video is very troubling, and I would love to see it established at law that if there should be video and there isn’t, the presumption is that the police are lying.

      OTOH, given the way the police are treated by the typical Democrat politician in New York or LA, I can understand why the cops are reluctant to surrender ANY shield from public scrutiny. It isn’t as if clear evidence that a suspect was armed and shooting is going to stop the mob-sucking Democrat weasels from stabbing the cops in the back.

      Are the cops always in the right? No. Should body cam video be routinely available? Hell, yes. But BLM is run by Black Quislings to keep all the metaphorical field hands on the Democrat plantation. So a large proportion of their ‘cops shoot innocent Blacks narratives are drivel. And clear video evidence doesn’t stop them.

      *sigh*

      1. “And clear video evidence doesn’t stop them but it stops juries from convicting them and they go so far out of their way to give Them the benefit of the doubt. So, fuck their PR problem with fascists. Them should be obeying the law instead of looking guilty as shit for hiding their actions. The ole’, if you got nothing to hide bs.

        OTOH, how does cop dick taste? Asking for a new copsucker who lost his sense of taste to kung flu.

    3. There needs to be an independent citizen review board for police with the power to lock up cops who hand-sit in response to recording requests. We’ve got contempt of court now all we need is contempt of public to lock up misbehaving government actors. Remand the grand fromage in custody, without pay, until his lackeys comply. Once locked up, the clock starts ticking on the #2.

      “Oops, we destroyed them” would be met with charges of destruction of public property, malfeasance in office, and naturally the civil forfeiture of their retirement package as it would be the proceeds of their crime.

      1. The charges should include tampering with evidence. A felony conviction means its a crime to ever possess a gun again and should permanently keep them off the police force. They might (when they get out of prison) still find a job as an _unarmed_ security guard at Walmart…

  2. What do Garcetti and de Blasio say?

  3. I saw “40%” bandied about in the article. Cops are 40% more demoralized since some junkie chose an innocent cop’s knee to die under. Considering that it takes about 40% fewer training hours for a man to become a cop as opposed to a barber, that sounds about right.

    We’re focusing on the wrong profession. Think about it: peace officers are there to ensure our 4th Amendment right to safety. ‘Peace’ is right there in the name! Do cops really need to be burdened with unconstitutional surveillance devices? Why? So we can constantly harangue and belittle them for merely doing their jobs?

    Barbers, on the other hand, have a long and bloody history of inflicting pain on the citizens who pay their salaries. It’s no wonder we live in fear, since one errant stroke of some drunken wannabe-Mengele’s straight razor is all it takes! Even their professional symbol, the barber pole, symbolizes the bloody rags of their mangled, unsuspecting victims which they’d proudly display outside their lairs like some demented trophy.

    Surveillance is for citizens and bad guys (not picking on anyone, but barbers come to mind). Let’s put the cameras where they’re really needed and let the good guys get back to work keeping the peace!

    1. Nice. OMB level! B+

  4. “The whole good cop/bad cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his Uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) a cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) therefore every cop has agreed to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. There are no good cops.” ~Robert Higgs

    1. Bad cop, criminal cop!

  5. This “foot dragging” where shown to exist and or to be an operational factor should be squashed RDN, written Right Damned Now.

  6. Why aren’t the New York and LA Times running a counter on page 1 that shows the backlog of infilled bodycam requests to shame these a-hole PDs??

    Right, they are not really on our side or the side of black victims. F those racist rags!!

  7. So if you defund the cops exactly how do you think you’ll get camera footage?

    Anyway, the people who really need to wear body cams recording 24/7 are politicians. All of them.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. A billion dollar cut to the PD and that’s supposed to help get body camera footage? I’m pretty sure it cost many tens, if not hundreds, of millions of budget dollars to get the cameras, the storage hardware, the new computer techs it takes to keep body footage. Oh, and after the billion dollar cuts they have to provide more training too? I wouldn’t even argue against defunding if someone were showing that the funding were being misused, but this is just defund them so they can’t do their jobs.

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  9. The governments of Democrat-led cities are in a quandary. Much of their political and financial support comes from unions, so they can’t really crack down on police (or teacher’s) unions without some backlash, but they also have to at least make it look like they’re doing something. I think they are dealing with this by passing body-camera laws and such, and then letting the police ignore them.

  10. We can all agree that defunding the LAPD and the NYPD is a good idea that is long overdue.
    They are a strain on the budget, are an embarrassment to the community and make criminals uncomfortable when they are around.
    Besides, LA and NYC are the very epitome of progressive success in city governing as witnessed of their non-existent crime, housing shortages, low taxes, first rate mass transit, cleanliness, and hospitable people everywhere in their respective municipalities.
    Next up: Defunding those annoying fire departments, water departments, electrical grids, hospitals and road repair units.

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