The Seattle Police Department might cancel plans to outfit officers with body cameras because the ensuing public record requests for the videos might become too costly for the city, according to a report published Thursday.
The Seattle Police Department was to begin a body camera pilot program in the coming weeks, with 1,000 officers to be outfitted with the technology by 2016 as part of an effort to document crime and protect officers’ and suspects’ rights.
But when an anonymous computer programmer bombarded the department with requests for daily updates on the police videos, officials said there was not enough money or staff to fulfill this and other such possible requests, jeopardizing the plan.
“This would just shut down so many other aspects of our operation, responding to a request of this nature,” a Seattle Police Department official told the Seattle Times newspaper.
The use of police body cameras gained national attention following the August shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a police officer and the conflicting accounts of the incident given by witnesses and the officer who killed him.
Advocates say the technology would reduce police misconduct, while law enforcement agencies say the cameras could help protect officers and provide valuable evidence about a crime. Opponents say the cameras have the potential to violate the privacy of victims and other citizens.
In Washington state, which has some of the most robust open records laws in the nation, police reports and almost all other information about officers’ contact with citizens is accessible to the public.
An anonymous man who operates a YouTube channel of 911 calls, surveillance and police videos, has now asked Seattle police for broad-reaching updates about the contents of the body camera videos taken by every officer using them.
He told Reuters in a phone interview he was trying to draw attention to the debate between privacy and transparency.
“State law is simply too liberal when it comes to privacy,” he said. “Nobody is going to change the law until somebody’s privacy is violated in a big way,” he said.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Eric Walsh)
Watch a report on the anonymous man’s requests for body camera records, as aired on KIRO-TV on Wednesday, below.
Obama’s chief economist warns of ‘a very high chance’ Trump’s trade war could cause 2020 recession
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Austan Goolsbee was interviewed by MSNBC's John Heilemann on Friday after the DJIA closed down over 600 points after the trade war escalated on Friday.
"Just give us, if you would, Austan, your sense of what has unfolded today and how bad it is," Heilemann asked.
"Yes, it’s terrible, I'm phoning from a bunker as we speak," Goolsbee replied.
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MSNBC anchor John Heilemann said, "we’re hours away for the president taking off to the G7 summit in Bairritz, France, where allies are bracing for the Trump-fueled mayhem that is now 100% certain to ensue, with Trump like a drunken traveler in the departure lounge about to take a trip that he dreads, already sewing global chaos, days-long public meltdown typically moved from words to actions."
"Donald Trump beginning this day with a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling, closing down more than 600 points today and escalating his trade war with China with these norm-shattering, power-abusing words in this tweet," he said, putting the tweet on-screen.
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On Friday, President Donald Trump went on a Twitter tirade against China.
....better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019