[UPDATE Sunday] When Should Video Footage from Police Cameras Be Made Available? SoHum Is Asked to Weigh in at Meeting

UPDATE: KMUD will be live streaming

Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming

Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming [Photo by Kym Kemp]

On Tuesday, November 7, District Attorney Maggie Fleming will be at the Healy Center in Redway to discuss the policy around the release of law enforcement video footage including that collected from body cams during officer-involved shootings. The meeting, which is from 6-7:30 p.m. will ask for public input on when and how video evidence should be released to the public.

Fleming said in an interview with the Times Standard that currently the policy is to release the video footage in an officer-involved shooting as soon as possible. However, she told the reporter,

…[T]here were considerations that needed to be made, including whether it affected the integrity of an investigation, public safety or privacy of people in the video.

She added it can take months for a video to be released.

“This is a very significant process, and it can take months,” she said. “And our review can take months.”

The meeting at the Healy Center is to collect public input on what policies should be put in place to decide when a particular video from the various local law enforcement agencies in an officer-involved shooting is released. However, at the current time, not all law enforcement in Humboldt County has the means to collect body and dash cam footage. According to Lt. Ken Swithenbank, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office does not. However, many local city police organizations–Rio Dell, Fortuna, and Eureka–collect either or both body and dash cam videos.

Swithenbank said that the storage for the thousands of hours of video footage that likely would be collected by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department is “super expensive” and would require hiring someone full-time to manage it and the public requests to view it. He said, “Prices have to come down” before the Sheriff’s Department can afford to install body and dash cams for their deputies.

UPDATE: KMUD will be live streaming

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20 comments

  • keep me faceless on edited video footage please.

  • tired of all this

    It should ALL be available to the press, immediately.
    We pay for it with our tax dollars. It is OURS.
    The police are our servants, as is the DA
    They seem oblivious of that, don’t they?

    • Right. We own the videos , should be public….

    • Being a member of the press, I’m inclined towards more information being made available. But what about the privacy of those involved? A video could show graphically a death of an innocent bystander for instance. I know some people feel strongly that the public should not see things like that. I know a story earlier this year in which we showed only the debris from an accident but no actual person still made some people angry.

      • The minute you “yeah, BUT…” you’re going against your initial principle. If you or I video in public, it may be shared without profit. That’s the law, period. The difference in this case is that you and I are paying for filming the public via police officers whether we like it or not. Please don’t be so naive as to believe the idea behind censoring police videos is for the purpose of bystandards etc. Even in Humboldt, the excuse has been, and will continue to overwhelmingly be for the sake of the authorities, not the public. The question is being posed not for your sake, but for the purpose of collecting language to resist video being released despite public demand. “Yeah, but…” in this case might as well be “no.”

        • So, let me ‘yeah, but’ one more time–with the understanding that as a whole I’m for access to this information.

          Let’s say, worst case scenario, a child gets shot in a horrible way by a criminal while on police video. Then greedy person demands the video and releases it on his/her website in order to make money from hits. You still okay with that? Shouldn’t there be some safeguards?

          • We can literally spend the rest of our lives imagining fictional scenarios. Back in the real world…

            • Except horrible scenarios will happen and that one isn’t that unlikely.

              • Why don’t you look up cases involving the censoring of police videos and tell me where you think the dialog is most important.

                • Like I said, I’m on the side as a whole of releasing information. I just am not a black and white sort of person. I see that there can be issues and it would be nice to talk about them and see if there are safeguards that could be put in place while still allowing information out to the public.

              • Kym, Maggie Fleming is a very wealthy lawyer. She has been kind enough to solicit input from the public through you. Please send her an email asking her explicit answer to her own inquiry. She, like her peer, Cyndy Day-Wilson, who fought to bar police video from the public (and lost) are paid millions of our tax dollars over time to interpret this specific law. Unless she’s incompetent, Maggie Fleming should be able to deliver a very concise reply. Will you please do that? How would she have handled the case that Day-Wilson lost?

                • I’d like to add that it goes without saying, the public, to whom she is indebted, is interested in her thoughts on the matter infiitely moreso than bloggers. (yes, i understand the semantics of the question…she will be at the meeting yada yada, but for all kinds of sakes, howzabout she put it in writing?)

      • …and regarding your last sentence, it’s your discretion (the media) to censor the footage, but it should be available from the authorities we pay as-is for the sake of fully informing the public. Remember transparency is critically important. It’s supposedly the purpose of the cameras in the first place.

        • tired of all this

          And the entire basis for the body & dash cams is, that when we are in public, WE HAVE NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY.

  • It is curious that the DA is coming to So Hum to seek input.
    Is there some recent history or ongoing related issue that causes her to seek that info here?
    Or is she making stops in other rural areas in the county to do the same?
    If not, I want to give her credit for coming to an area where there will likely be strong and articulate opinions, some that will likely be in opposition to enforcement actions in general. More credit if she realizes that this community has something to offer when looking for solutions.
    We in So Hum have decades of organized interactions with and often in opposition to the police. So, with that experience, our educated activists can make a contribution to this new and interesting discussion (where decisions need to be made and expenses allocated).

  • Our officials or government should not be given the time to edit the videos in there favor. They should be released immediately!

  • groba dude osnt trustafarian

    Those of us who do not commit crimes say let’s all video everything everywhere! Like in Europe!

    Big Brother watching? Fuck, I don’t care…

  • fuckwalterwhite.com

    If it was all available,Bob Sagat would make a TV comedy clip show of “Best PD Fails”.
    And someone else would make a gruesome version.

    Ideally,live stream would be best. But it would get exploited.

    The place and time that we live in probably has the least amount of daily horror for the average person,than any time in history.

  • Yes, we at KMUD will be broadcasting live on air and streaming on line. Also we archive our broadcasts so if you miss it you can listen at your convenience.
    KMUD.ORG
    91.1 FM Garberville
    88.1 FM Eureka / Arcata / Cresent City
    90.3 FM Laytonville / Mendo Coast
    99.5 FM Shelter Cove / Ships at Sea

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