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How Long Should Police Be Allowed to Withhold Video Footage?

Body cameras are becoming more common on police forces, but state policies don’t agree on when footage can be made public.
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REUTERS/Frank Polich

Government agencies are supposed to fulfill open-record requests within a few days in many states, unless there’s a compelling reason not to. Police usually are excused from fulfilling these requests if they plead that the release of certain information could compromise an open investigation. (New Hampshire is currently the only state that doesn’t give the police that option.)  

Chicago residents are not on board with their police department’s ability to block access to footage, though. They’ve been especially resentful of such measures since police took well over a year to publicize video of an officer shooting an unarmed 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing him. That footage was captured by a camera on a police car’s dashboard, and the deployment of such “police cams” is expanding in Chicago and many other cities.