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Salt Lake police to release body camera videos within 10 days of incidents

SALT LAKE CITY – A big change is announced regarding police body-cam videos from the Salt Lake City Police Department.  It could make it so people demanding to see the videos may get them more quickly.

Prosecutors and Salt Lake City officials say they have a tricky balance to maintain before they can release any body cam footage.  They have to be transparent, but, there are times when releasing a video could impact a victim’s right to privacy.  Mayor Jackie Biskupski says there are cases where the video will capture cases of domestic violence and the victim’s need to have their identities protected.  She adds, “Not everyone on the video always wants that video out there.”

The new policy says videos of all incidents will be classified as “public” after 10 business days, unless there are unusual or unforeseen issues preventing the video’s release.  People can ask for the videos through a typical GRAMA request.  Biskupski adds, “This will create more transparency in this community, yet, protect a process of investigation that is very important.”

The Salt Lake County DA’s Office believes this policy is a workable one.  District Attorney Sim Gill says he will be allowed to voice his concern if he feels releasing a video will hamper his investigation.  However, the videos belong to Salt Lake City, and the city decides if it will be released. “If there are aspects to that that may raise collateral issues, because I’m going to have to screen and file those cases, then, those are issues we’re going to have to work through,” Gill says.

The new policy is not sitting well with groups like Utah Against Police Brutality.  Member Deborah Blake says 10 days is not quick enough.  She says, “We don’t know if in those ten days they’re going to be editing the footage to their advantage.”  Their group is demanding unedited videos be released to the public within 48 hours of any incident.

(Photo Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)