Court rulings top CFOIC’s 2021 list of Colorado transparency highlights and lowlights, with the most impactful paving the way for a state law change that lets governments publicly name just one finalist for chief executive positions like university president, city manager and school superintendent.
body camera footage
A new Colorado law requires the public disclosure of police body-worn camera footage of incidents “in which there is a complaint of peace officer misconduct.” But what do journalists do when they want to request video, but no one has filed an official complaint?
Bookmark it. Use it. Share it. For the first time, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition’s sunshine laws guide is online — searchable and indexed by topic — with links to pertinent statutes and case law.
Another court hearing, another ruling in favor of a news media coalition under Colorado’s new law governing the public release of police body-worn camera footage.
A coalition of news organizations asked a Weld County District Court judge to modify or rescind his order barring the public release of body-worn and dashboard camera footage from a June incident in which a Greeley police officer allegedly used a chokehold during an arrest.
One change will impact the release of body-worn and dashboard camera footage, and another might help mitigate the loss of public information caused by the encryption of police radio transmissions. Two additional provisions address public access to records of completed police internal affairs investigations and lists of officers who have credibility issues.
An unarmed Black man is brutally murdered by police, who are utterly indifferent to his repeated pleas for restraint. First the people in that city, then across the nation (and, eventually, across the globe) take to the streets. They demand justice. They demand accountability. And they call upon the police, not only in that city but across the nation, to reform their practices, to eliminate racial profiling and overly aggressive militaristic responses, and to become more transparent — including by publicly releasing body-worn camera recordings of police-public confrontations.
One positive development in the current historical moment is the growing awareness and recognition – by citizens, legislators, governors, mayors, and even police chiefs – that there can be little or no public trust, a necessary foundation of effective law enforcement, without both accountability and transparency.
News organizations in Colorado will soon get some extra legal firepower to fight wrongful denials of access to government records and proceedings.
Footage from police body-worn cameras clearly fits the definition of criminal justice records in one of Colorado’s freedom-of-information laws: All materials, including recordings, “made, maintained, or kept” by criminal justice agencies. But some district attorneys are relying on more than the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act to determine whether and when body camera video should be disclosed to the public.