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Is Police Body Camera Footage Public Record?


Police body cameras are becoming a standard in more police departments worldwide. There are many advantages for law enforcement to have these devices with one being it can show what happened if an incident is being disputed. But who is allowed to view that footage?

Public Record Laws

Every state has its own policies regarding public records. Individual police departments can also make rules on how body camera footage is released.

Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police have laid out specific rules to view body camera footage. In short, individuals are allowed to see body camera footage involving themselves only (meaning no one else can be identified in the footage). The footage can only be viewed at a Metropolitan Police station and individuals will not receive a duplicate copy of the footage.

Metropolitan Police also state that they have the authority to deny someone’s request to view specific footage. If a request is denied, individuals have the right to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Atlanta, Georgia

The state of Georgia has a policy known as the Georgia Open Records Act. Because of this rule, public records are to be made available to the public if they file a request.

However, when it comes to police body camera footage, the Atlanta Police Department does not necessarily consider that public record. In many cases, the department has chosen not to show footage citing that releasing it could interfere with their investigation.

Retention of Footage

If an individual has the opportunity to view the body camera footage, it’s critical to make that request sooner than later. That’s because most body camera footage is not stored for long periods of time. Another reason many police departments do not keep footage for a long time is that it can be expensive to purchase storage for footage.

What To Do If Your Rights Were Violated and There is Police Body Camera Footage

If you were involved in an incident with law enforcement and believe there is police body camera footage of the incident, you may be allowed to see that footage. The police brutality and misconduct attorneys at HDR Law can help you find out for sure. Our nationally recognized firm confronts any injustice you may face — speak with one of our experienced attorneys today by calling (404) 341-4434 or scheduling a consultation online.