If you read that headline and assumed this blog would be bashing Congress or President Obama, I apologize for disappointing you. But the bad idea to which I am referring comes courtesy of Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington D.C. She wants to exempt police body camera footage from the Washington D.C. Freedom of Information Act. According to the piece in Washington City Paper, the provision is tucked away in a bill called the “Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Act of 2015.”
I assume Mayor Bowser was playing hide the ball here, so to save my readers some time, here it is:
This subtitle exempts Metropolitan Police Department body camera video footage from Freedom of Information Act regulations. The purpose of this subtitle is to address privacy issues concerning officers and the residents filmed on body cameras. This subtitle would be applicable from the date that body cameras were first used on October 1, 2014.
Here we go again. Do politicians go to a class called “Solutions in Search of Problems?” Because so many of them seem to excel in the field. I suppose in an infinitesimal number of cases, privacy may be an issue. But how that justifies making all footage off limits confuses me.
Does anyone doubt that what cops do and how they do it are matters of great public interest? Has anyone not heard about Ferguson or North Charleston? Body camera footage is and should be publicly available. And Mayor Bowser should know better.