Court rules that body cam footage is subject to public disclosure

An appellate court on Tuesday ruled footage from police body cameras should be subject to New York’s public disclosure laws.

The ruling from the Appellate Division, part of a lawsuit filed by media organizations, determined the footage is not dissimilar to that of arrest or stop reports.

The Police Benevolent Association had argued the footage was similar to that of a personnel record. The court disagreed.

“The footage, here, rather, is more akin to arrest or stop reports, and not records primarily generated for disciplinary and promotional purposes. To hold otherwise would defeat the purpose of the body-worn-camera program to promote increased transparency and public accountability,” the court found.

The court said the union did have “valid concerns” about personal privacy and the safety of police officers, but ultimately determined the record was not solely to be used in performance evaluation.

The use of body cameras has become more prevalent in recent years for police departments both large and small.

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