SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — With the signing of AB 748, all law enforcement agencies in California are now required to release body cam footage from critical incidents within 45 days. Those incidents include when an officer fires their gun or uses force that causes great bodily harm or death.
The ACLU of California sponsored the legislation.
"Today is just a banner day for transparency and accountability of police here in California," said Natasha Minsker with the ACLU of California.
In the past, ACLU officials say, departments would withhold body cam footage because releasing it, they claimed, would interfere with a pending investigation. The ACLU says this new law now closes that loophole.
"And what this new law does is make clear that the police department must release these videos and they must do it quickly so the public can see the video soon after the incident has happened," Minsker said.
In its most high profile case this year the Sacramento Police Department released body cam footage just three days following the police shooting death of Stephon Clark although they had 30 days to do so under current department policy. They did make a major policy change after officers were found to have muted their body cams on the scene directly after the Clark shooting. Sacramento PD officers are now required to give a verbal reason for muting their microphones before doing so.
Deputies with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department do not wear body cams.
Under AB 748, departments can still delay the release of body cam video for up to 30 days under certain circumstances where its immediate release could jeopardize a current investigation.
for more features.