Is police body worn camera footage subject to disclosure?

Generally, Body Worn Camera (“BWC”) footage is exempt from disclosure under the CPRA. (Gov. Code 6254 et. seq., Penal Code 832.5, 832.7, 832.8, and Evidence Code 1043, 1046)

In some instances, BWC footage may be released; however, BWC footage is subject to the same potential redactions as other "writings." Absent a valid court order or other statutory authority, body cam videos are subject to the same restrictions as crime reports and other "writings". Such restrictions include, but are not limited to, information such as the addresses, telephone numbers, and names of sexual assault victims, or victims of domestic violence and victims who have requested their information not be disclosed. (Gov. Code 6254(f)(2))

Absent a waiver by the Sheriff's Office, BWC footage will only be released, subject to redactions, in instances where:

  • An employee discharges a firearm at someone, or,
  • An employee is involved in a Use of Force which causes great bodily injury or death (Senate Bill 1421; PC 832.7, 832.8

Additionally, Assembly Bill 748 (“AB 748”), which amended certain portions of Government Code section 6254, became effective on July 1, 2019. Per AB 748 video and audio recordings that relate to an incident involving the discharge of a firearm at a person or an incident involving the use of force which resulted in great bodily injury or death, by a peace or custodial officer, will be released except in certain circumstances. ((Government Code 6254(f)(4)); (Government Code 6254(f)(4)(C)(i)); (Government Code 6254(f)(4)(C)(ii))))

These circumstances include:

  • During an active criminal or administrative investigation, disclosure may be delayed for no longer than 45 calendar days after the agency knew or reasonably should have known about the incident. (Government Code 6254(f)(4)(A)(i))
  • If the public interest in withholding a video or audio recording clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure because disclosure would violate the reasonable expectation of privacy of someone depicted in the recording. The Sheriff's Office may use redaction technology to obscure those portions of the recording to protect the interest. (Government Code 6254(f)(4)(8)(i))
  • The recording will be released, either redacted or unredacted, to the subject whose privacy is to be protected, his or her representative, parent or guardian (in the case of a minor), or the heir, beneficiary, designated immediate family member, or authorized legal representative (in the case of a deceased subject).  The recording may be withheld if disclosure would interfere with an active criminal or administrative investigation. (Government Code 6254(f)(4)(B)(iii), Penal Code 832.7(b)(7)(A))
  • In cases where there is an ongoing criminal/civil investigation or court process, the records may be withheld until either 30 days after the trial finding/plea or the administrative investigation, whichever is later. (AB 748, Gov. Code 6254(f)(4)(A)(i)-(B)(iii))

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1. What is the "California Public Records Act? (Gov Code 6252 et seq)
2. What is a Public Record?
3. Who can make a Public Records Act Request?
4. Can a public records request be made anonymously?
5. Do I have to specify my reason for making a Public Records Act request?
6. Who at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office is Responsible for Responding to CPRA Requests?
7. Are all public records subject to public disclosure?
8. Does a request for records have to be in writing?
9. When are records to be made available for inspection?
10. If a person wants to inspect or obtain a copy of a public record, but fails to describe a reasonably identifiable record, is CPRA staff required to assist the individual?
11. What is the time frame for responding to a request for public records?
12. Can the time period to respond be extended?
13. What constitutes "unusual circumstances" for extending the time to respond?
14. ls the Sheriff's Office required to notify the requesting party in writing of the 14-day extension?
15. What if the requested records contain both exempt and nonexempt materials?
16. Can a requester have the records disclosed in electronic format?
17. ls the Sheriff's Office required to provide a copy of the electronic record in the format requested?
18. Can the Sheriff's Office charge a fee for copies of the records being requested?
19. Can the Sheriff's Office charge for services in providing copies of records?
20. What if the Sheriff's Office says that it has no records responsive to my request?
21. How long must the Sheriff's Office maintain records?
22. Where can I find the records retention policy?
23. On what grounds may a request for public records be denied?
24. Does the CPRA contain a list of state laws that expressly exempts information contained in a record from disclosure?
25. ls the Sheriff's Office required to respond to a request for public record in writing?
26. ls the Sheriff's Office required to state reasons for denying a request for records?
27. Can the Sheriff's Office deny a request based on the purpose of the request?
28. Can the Sheriff's Office file an action for declaratory relief to ask the court to determine whether the records must be disclosed?
29. What if the Sheriff's Office unjustifiably denies a request for a record?
30. ls a written communication within the Sheriff's Office in reference to pending or current litigation subject to disclosure?
31. Are sections from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office Standards Manual (“DSM”) exempt from disclosure?
32. Is a police report subject to disclosure?
33. Is a report of an ongoing investigation subject to disclosure?
34. Is a report regarding juvenile subject to disclosure?
35. Will the Sheriff's Office redact any information before it is disclosed?
36. Is police body worn camera footage subject to disclosure?
37. Is a traffic accident report subject to disclosure?
38. Can information regarding people who hold concealed weapons permits be disclosed?
39. Is information in a peace officer's personnel file subject to disclosure?
40. ls a request for premises history information disclosable (i.e., information regarding criminal activity at an address or addresses)?
41. ls an individual's criminal history disclosable?
42. Are materials used in training police officers subject to disclosure?
43. ls the Arrest Log Information of people who have been arrested by the Sheriff's Office subject to disclosure?
44. Are Sheriff's employees entitled to their personnel files with a request under the CPRA?
45. Are Sheriff's employees entitled to inspect records relating to possible criminal investigation or letters of reference?
46. Is the salary information of Sheriff's employees subject to disclosure?
47. Are administrative investigations considered public records that are subject to inspection under the CPRA?