Governor Jerry Brown approves bill that amends investigatory records exemption to require disclosure of body cam videos

The CPRA has long allowed access to only information held by police but not the actual records. Governor Jerry Brown’s signature on AB 748, by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) changes this by amending the investigatory records exemption to require the disclosure of video or audio footage related to “critical incidents.”

The bill has been most recognized as requiring disclosure of body camera footage, but the universe of disclosable records under the new rules is broader to include 911 calls, videos collected by an agency like surveillance footage, and any other audio or video record related to a critical incident.

CNPA and the ACLU were co-sponsors of the bill.

The new rules require disclosure of a limited category of records, related to critical incidents where a police officer discharges a firearm or causes a person great bodily injury.

The timing requirements are a fundamental element of the measure – they require fast disclosure of body camera and other footage. The rule presumes that access should happen after 45 days from the date of the incident. To withhold for longer, the agency must have a legitimate investigatory reason to deny access. After one year, the agency can only withhold the record if there is clear and convincing evidence that disclosure would be harmful to an important public interest, and the agency must tell the requester the reasons for withholding the information.

The bill has a delayed implementation date, becoming effective July 1, 2019.