It is the intent of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners (Commission), through the adoption of this policy, to increase transparency with respect to the operations of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and in doing so, foster greater public trust. The people of Los Angeles have an undeniable interest in being informed, in a timely fashion and based on the most accurate information available, about how their police department conducts its business, especially where officers use lethal force or where the use of force by the police result in the death or serious injury of a civilian.
This policy sets the standards and criteria for the public release of video recordings that capture critical incidents involving LAPD officers. This policy is intended to balance two important interests: the public’s interest in transparency and police accountability, and the privacy interests of the individuals depicted in such videos. The public has a strong interest in obtaining timely access to information, including video footage, regarding incidents where officers use lethal force and/or where a person has died or suffered a serious injury as a result of a police encounter or while in police custody. At the same time, the individuals who appear in these videos have a privacy interest which must be considered. These individuals include not only the involved individuals and the police officers, but also witnesses, bystanders, and the subject upon whom force is used.
There are considerations, such as preserving the integrity of related investigations, that may justify a delay or deviation from the standard procedure, and these considerations are also detailed in this policy. In recognizing that a video may not tell the whole story, the LAPD will also provide the necessary context when releasing video so the public has the most accurate picture of what occurred based on the information known at the time of release.
It is the policy of the Los Angeles Police Department that video evidence in the Department’s possession of critical incidents involving LAPD officers be released to the public within 45 days of the incident. The Commission or the Chief of Police may determine that earlier release is in the public interest. This release shall consist of relevant video imagery that depicts the actions and events leading up to and including the critical incident. Relevant video imagery is video and accompanying audio footage that is typically considered by the Chief of Police, Board of Police Commissioners, and criminal prosecutors to determine the propriety of an officer’s conduct during such critical incident. The release of video shall be accompanied by additional information to provide context based on the evidence available at the time of release. This policy applies only to incidents occurring after the effective date set forth below.
Video Sources: The sources of video that may be released pursuant to this policy includes, but are not limited to, body-worn camera video, digital in-car video, police facility surveillance video, video captured by the Department’s use of a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS), and video captured by third parties that is in the Department’s possession.
Privacy Protections: Video will not be released where prohibited by law or court order. Further, consistent with the protections afforded juveniles and the victims of certain crimes, video imagery shall be redacted or edited to the extent necessary to ensure that the identity of said individual(s) is protected. Where the video cannot be sufficiently redacted or edited to protect the person’s identity, it will be withheld. In addition, video may also be redacted or edited to protect the privacy interests of other individuals who appear in the video. In each instance, such redaction may include removing sound or blurring of faces and other images that would specifically identify involved individuals, sensitive locations, or reveal legally protected information. Further, where possible, such redaction or editing shall not compromise the depiction of what occurred during the incident.
There may be circumstances under which the release of such video must be delayed to protect one or more of the following:
These reasons may not be general; they must have a factual basis and be specific to the individual case. For example, investigators have identified but not yet been able to interview a key witness to the incident. The delay of the release of video, in accordance with this policy, shall be made pursuant only to the unanimous decision of the Chief of Police and the Commission’s two designated liaisons for video release. In the absence of a unanimous decision supporting a delay, the video imagery will be released. Any decision to permit a delay shall be re-assessed every fourteen days thereafter, with any continued justification for delay, as well as anticipated time frame for release presented to the Commission at its next regularly scheduled public meeting. The video imagery in question shall be released as soon as the reason for delay has been resolved.
o If the subject is deceased, the next of kin will be notified. o If the subject is a juvenile, the subject’s parents or legal guardian will be notified. o If the subject is represented by legal counsel, that representative will be notified.
Posting: All released video shall remain posted on the Department’s designated website until twelve months after the Board of Police Commissioners adjudicates the incident.
The release of any specific video imagery does not waive the Department’s right to withhold other video imagery or investigative materials in the same case or any other case, as permitted by law. This policy is not intended to displace or supersede any legal right or remedy available to any person or entity, and it is also not intended to prevent or hinder compliance by the Department with respect to any legal disclosure requirements, including but not limited to, any court order or disclosure provisions of the California Public Records Act.
This policy shall take effect 30 days after approval by the Board of Police Commissioners.