San Jose city council has authority to demand faster release of police body-cam video

The San Jose Police Department must more quickly release body-camera footage for incidents deemed of “extraordinary public interest” when the city council asks for it, according to a new policy. 

The Mercury News reports that the San Jose City Council has the new authority to direct the city manager to publicly disclose video footage from high-profile police incidents. A time frame for release was not explicitly stated. 

The policy defines “incidents of extraordinary public interest” as those in which “interactions between the police and the public result in significant and sustained public outcry,” including large protests and controversial uses of force.

The police department will be required to release at least 10 minutes of footage prior to an incident to provide greater context of an encounter.

There is some leniency built into the new policy, such as if an event produces so much video that processing it “would unduly consume the time and labor of staff.” In those cases, the department can release the three videos they deem “most clearly and fully capture the event,” the policy states.

A state law, AB 748, already compels the public disclosure of officers’ body-worn camera footage within 45 days of a critical incident. But there are exceptions to that, when police say there is an "ongoing investigation." 

The council’s actions Tuesday appear to be aimed at narrowing when that exemption would be valid, the Mercury News reports.