Request for Texas AG opinion on body cams

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ELB
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Re: Request for Texas AG opinion on body cams

Postby ELB » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:39 pm

The AG has issued opinions to both requests cited above.

KP-185 addresses whether an officer involved in an incident may review video from all officer body-worn cameras before making a statement, or may review only video from his own body-worn camera. The AG's opinion is that Texas statute requires that the officer be allowed to view all officer body-worn cameras prior to making a statement.
https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/op ... kp0185.pdf

Subsection 1701 .655(b )(5) of the Occupations Code requires
a law enforcement agency that receives a grant for a body-womcamera
program or otherwise operates a body-worn-camera
program to adopt a policy that entitles a peace officer to choose
which recording or recordings of an incident involving the officer to
access before the officer is required to make a statement about the
incident.


KP-186 addresses requests from non-police individuals to obtain video from officer body-worn cameras, and if the head of the law enforcement agency can deny, authorize, or is required to provide access if he believe that would interfere with an investigation. The request and the opinion are divided into two major categories, requests from "the public" and requests from governmental employees. Those categories are further subdivided into request for video involving adult subjects and for juvenile subjects.
https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/op ... kp0186.pdf

The answers are roughly thus:

Public member request for officer body cam video involving adults:
LE chief may withhold only if he believes providing the video would interfere with an investigation AND he seeks and obtains a opinion from the Texas AG confirming his decision. The LE chief does have discretion to release video, as long as any elements that are otherwise confidential per Texas law are redacted.

Public member request for officer body cam video involving juveniles:
LE chief may NOT RELEASE to the public video that involves juveniles/will be used in a juvenile court proceeding (with very narrow exceptions).

Government employee (e.g. mayor, city manager) with oversight authority in his official capacity requesting officer body cam video involving adults: LE chief must release the video unless the governmental unit's existing ordinances or policies provide otherwise.

Government employee (e.g. mayor, city manager) with oversight authority in his official capacity requesting officer body cam video involving juvenile: LE chief must release the video unless the governmental unit's existing ordinances or policies provide otherwise. The Texas statutory provision against release of information concerning juveniles applies only to "the public," not to release to the government.

Pursuant to section 552.108(a)(l) of the Government Code,
upon receiving authorization from the Attorney General, a law
enforcement agency may withhold the recording of a body worn
camera if releasing it to a member of the public would interfere with
the detection, investigation, or prosecution of a crime. The
exception to disclosure under section 552.108 is discretionary, and
a law enforcement agency may release information recorded by a
body worn camera to a member of the public after the agency redacts
any information made confidential by law.

With narrow exceptions, section 58.008 of the Family Code
prohibits a law enforcement agency from releasing to a member of
the public a body worn camera recording that could be used as
evidence in a juvenile court proceeding or depicts or otherwise
relates to a child in a manner that would restrict access to the
recording.

A municipal law enforcement agency may not withhold from
a member of the municipal governing body a recording from a body
worn camera when the request is made in the member's official
capacity. Whether civilian employees may access the recordings
will depend on the authority given those employees by the municipal
governing body and the internal policies and procedures of the
municipality.
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