Despite taxpayers spending millions of dollars to outfit police officers across the country with body-worn cameras, an effort sold as the key to transparency and accountability in policing, a recent survey shows that when civilians die at the hands of police, the public usually never sees the footage, Umar Farooq reports for ProPublica.
Of the 101 deaths by police that occurred in 131 law enforcement agencies in 34 states in June 2022, a time frame chosen because enough time had elapsed that investigations could reasonably be expected to have concluded, authorities or victims’ families had released the bodycam footage of only 33 incidents. Withholding body-worn camera footage from the public has become so entrenched in some cities that even pleas from victims’ families don’t serve to shake the video loose. Police departments involved in 14 of the June 2022 deaths reviewed released the body-camera footage because a department policy or a state or local law demanded it. The requirements vary and many other departments — including 11 from the June 2022 review — said they cannot disclose body-camera footage while incidents are under investigation.