Attorney General says no permission needed for body cameras; SPD - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Attorney General says no permission needed for body cameras; SPD Chief responds

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Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says police don't need permission to record their interactions with citizens using cameras worn on their uniforms. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says police don't need permission to record their interactions with citizens using cameras worn on their uniforms.
SPOKANE, Wash. - As body cameras become more common with local law enforcement agencies around the state, including Spokane, the issue of what is private and what is public information in the recordings has come into question. On Monday, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered his opinion on the topic. 

Ferguson said police do not need permission to record their interactions with citizens, saying interactions with on-duty police are presumed to be public and therefore officers are under no obligation to turn off the cameras if people object to being recorded, even if the conversation is being recorded in someone's home. Ferguson also stated the recordings must be preserved to the state Public Records Act. 

The statement made by Ferguson is only opinion and non-binding. Ferguson issued the statement at the request of state Senator Andy Billig of Spokane. With the Spokane Police Department implementing a body camera program, Billig had asked the Attorney General's office several questions about whether the use of body cameras might conflict with Washington's Privacy Act, which bars the recording of most private conversations without the consent of all parties.

Spokane Police Department Chief Frank Straub responded with this statement: 

“The Spokane Police's Department's body worn camera draft policy is consistent with the Washington State Attorney General's Opinion on Video and Audio Recording of Communications Between Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers Using Body Cameras Attached to Police Uniforms.

I believe our draft body worn camera policy draws on the best practices of the policing profession, extensive dialogue with the community we serve, and legal opinions on both the state and national level.

The Spokane Police Department continues to solicit public input on the body camera draft policy. Anyone with comments or suggestions is encouraged to submit feedback by visiting the body camera information section of the Spokane Police Department website.”

 

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