I guess you can ignore them and go out and help weed, or you could use writing a story as an excuse not to weed. Well…guess which one I picked.
I had three requests from readers to jump in on this SR story because they are aware I was involved in the legal issues surrounding Body Cameras, and actually wrote the questions presented to the Attorney General.
They also had read my story regarding the new law back in May.
The SR story linked above actually does have a bearing on my recent “Meidl Show” stories because the story seriously questions the judgement of the SPD in releasing the footage to pump the public perception of SPD at the expense of Mr. Count’s public embarrassment.
Yes, SPD can legally pick and choose what is released to the public that is not prohibited by RCW 42.56.240 (14) and perhaps get away with it…I said “perhaps”. As many of you know I expressed my concerns of the City of Spokane being on the wrong end of Body Camera Litigation over and over.
Whether or not this case ends up in litigation or not remains to be seen, and even if it does whether the plaintiff prevails or not isn’t the issue. The real issue is why put the City of Spokane in jeopardy of civil litigation and the possibility of being infamous for being the Department that screwed it up for the entire State of Washington?
Any Law Enforcement Administrator knows for a fact that the old adage “BAD CASES, AND BAD JUDGEMENT, MAKES BAD LAW!”
Other agencies in the State have released PR video like this in the past except those releases did not identify the individual and faces were obscured which is a relatively simple software process. The new Public Records Act Law regarding Body Cameras only became effective on June 9th, 2016 and the new law is a direct result of the Washington State Attorney General’s Opinion so it is brand new, with NO established case law and Law Enforcement agencies in the State don’t quite yet have a handle on how they are going to play it, and playing it for PR purposes is downright DUMB.
The use of Body Cameras by Law Enforcement were intended to be for ACCOUNTABILITY PURPOSES, and certainly not PR PURPOSES, which SPD through their PIO clearly admits they are being used for.
Body camera footage of routine incidents gives the department an important tool to help the public better understand officers’ jobs, she said.
“Those didn’t make the news before because we had nothing to show for it,” Fuller said. “These types of videos are ones that our citizens want to – and should – see.”
Fuller’s above statement would make for great deposition questions if someone decided to file a lawsuit. Trust me the ACLU is looking for one so why be dumb enough to be the guinea pig?
As I mentioned in my earlier story, this law enforcement backed law covered law enforcement backs with this portion of the law.
(c) In a court action seeking the right to inspect or copy a body worn camera recording, a person who prevails against a law enforcement or corrections agency that withholds or discloses all or part of a body worn camera recording pursuant to (a) of this subsection is not entitled to fees, costs, or awards pursuant to RCW 42.56.550 unless it is shown that the law enforcement or corrections agency acted in bad faith or with gross negligence.
So if the ACLU or Mr. Cikutovich did decide to file a law suit they would have to show that SPD “acted in bad faith or with gross negligence” to collect. I’m not sure that stupidity reached the level of bad faith or gross negligence… but it could be a contributing factor. 🙂
Another cool quote from Officer Fuller is this one:
Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Teresa Fuller said the department has created a position with responsibilities that include finding and redacting body camera footage for public relations purposes. Fuller said she hopes the job is made a full-time position.
So SPD has created yet another public relations staffer? Male or female? SPD Budget or Park Department? 🙂 🙂
Taking the same scenario outlined in the SR Story and reversing the roles Sgt. Eric Kannberg being the Jerk and Cory Counts being the good guy would the public see the video? Of course not!
Well…I think you get my drift!
***Darn it… I should have made this story longer…now the lawn needs mowed. (: