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California To Require Release Of Law Enforcement Videos In Shootings, Use-Of-Force Incidents Within 45 Days

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Sacramento Police Department officers wear body cameras. Under a new law, any footage of use-of-force incidents must be released within 45 days.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

This is part of our series on new California laws taking effect in 2019.

Next year, law enforcement agencies will be required to release audio and video of shootings or use-of-force incidents within 45 days.

Several agencies — including the Sacramento and Los Angeles police departments — have been releasing these records for some time.

But the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department's first-ever release of videos from an incident didn't take place until earlier this month.

Sheriff's Sgt. Shaun Hampton says it took 100 hours of work to edit the videos, including redacting information to protect the privacy of witnesses, victims or other citizens in our community.”

“There's a lot of software and a lot of process that goes into” preparing the records for release, he said, adding that the department will buy new editing software.

The department’s release of the videos came about five weeks after the death of Marshall Miles died. He was videotaped by surveillance cameras and passersby behaving erratically before a California Highway Patrol officer detained him. The sheriff department videos show Miles struggling with officers upon arrival at the Sacramento County Jail. He later went into cardiac arrest.

Law-enforcement agencies can delay the release by 30 days if they can prove publication of the video would substantially interfere with an investigation, but must update the party requesting the records every 30 days.

The law goes into effect July 1, 2019.

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