Washington, DC, Police Union Moves to Block Release of Body Cam Footage

The Washington, D.C., police union said on Monday it asked a court to block the mandatory release of body camera footage and names of police officers involved in shootings.

The federal district passed a police reform law in July after weeks of protests in the nation’s capital and across the globe against systemic racism and police brutality, sparked by the killing of African-American George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Floyd’s death, as well as other high-profile incidents of police brutality, led three dozen states to introduce initiatives to change or study policing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Washington’s emergency legislation requires the Metropolitan Police Department to release the names of officers and body camera footage within five days of an officer-involved shooting or the use of serious force, among other measures.

Records of previous incidents, dating back to the beginning of the body-camera program in October 2014, were to be released by Aug. 15. The police union argued in its court filing, made on Aug. 7, that releasing those records could harm officers’ reputations.

“The release of the body-camera footage and names of officers will unjustly malign and permanently tarnish the reputation and good name of any officer that is later cleared of misconduct concerning the use of force,” the union said in a statement.

Nationwide data on police discipline is limited. A Reuters investigation found that many police union contracts call for disciplinary records to be kept private or erased and make it difficult for citizens to file complaints.

Experts have said body-worn cameras or bystander footage can increase the likelihood of attention to or discipline for police misconduct.

On July 31, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser released footage related to killings in three officer-involved deaths.

The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The district’s attorney general’s office declined to comment.

Arthur Spitzer, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, said the organization agreed with the union that there was a right to privacy, but said it did not apply to officer-involved shootings. He noted that some of the issues the union brought up with the law are already addressed with certain checks.

“We don’t think that the identity of a law enforcement officer who’s engaged in official conduct is a matter of sensitive personal information at all,” Spitzer said.

The union’s latest move comes on the heels of a separate lawsuit it filed, which argued that the portion of the reform law that stripped it of the right to negotiate with management over the discipline of members was unconstitutional.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Heather Timmons and Dan Grebler)


  1. Paul, there are plenty of black thugs who don’t care about life, and the ones they prey on the most are also black. Are you saying that the nastiest punk with a dark face should set the standard for our cops? Your comment doesn’t amount to more than that.

  2. I am supportive of the police that abide by their training and the law–BUT the union appears to have forgotten WHO the police are PAID BY and are TASKED TO PROTECT.” The American public! If a shooting takes place and a “person of interest” is identified or charge by the police, HOW is it different?
    I have nor will I EVER say or imply that ALL police are unfit to serve. I admire and appreciate the work of the many honest, law abiding police officers across this country. I spent 20 yrs of my professional career identifying and investigating unfit medical professionals. But, unfortunately some do exist—and YES, some doctors will cover for unfit doctors and fewer nurses will cover for unfit nurses. If a doctor is filling hospital beds, you will have hospital administrators that wish to cover for them. THAT does not make ALL medical professionals unfit. BUT ignoring the ones that ARE, is not a solution, it makes us part of the problem.

  3. Sure, sure, sure. Black lives don’t matter. To say otherwise is anti-police, anti-Trump, and anti-white. Congratulations on resolving your identity crises, boys.

  4. There’s precedent set by the ACLU’s barring the use of surveillance videos taken by building cameras of the Portland rioters.

    On the other hand, any police force knowing that they will be defunded and scapegoated by their own city administration has plenty of motive to say, “Ooops, those files were accidentally deleted.”

    Just like Milwaukee LE agencies saying they would not protect or police the (now-canceled) Dim convention. Boohoo. The Dims F the people they expect to protect them. q.v. how that worked for the Roman emperors.

    “I was suppressing rioters when XXX candidate crossed my line of fire.” “…and his team of supporters.”

  5. More police unions need to do the same in other cities where liberals are destroying their cities. BLUE LIVES MATTER and always will.

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