City of Mobile Seeking AL AG Opinion on Releasing Police Body Camera Video

Mobile, AL (WKRG)

On the Mobile City Council’s agenda is a resolution asking for an opinion from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office on releasing police body camera video.  The cameras were adopted more than two years ago but is extremely reticent to release anything pertaining camera footage or procedures under the state’s open record’s law.  They have yet to produce any video even from cases that have been adjudicated requested by News 5 under the state’s open records law.

More specifically this resolution will ask the AG’s office for opinions on whether the police department must release body camera video from an ongoing investigation involving a minor.  The resolution also asks for an opinion from the Attorney General on whether internal body camera policies are subject to the open records law.

The resolution also imposes a moratorium on releasing any body camera footage that is part of an ongoing investigation until the opinion is rendered.

Here is the text of the resolution from the Agenda Packet released last week:

RESOLUTION AUTITHORTZTNG THE MAYOR
TO SEEK AN OPINION FROM THE ALABAMA ATTORNEY GENERAL

Sponsored by Mayor Stimpson.

WHEREAS, the City of Mobile wishes to adequately and appropriately balance the government’s interest in protecting all evidence subject to an ongoing police investigation with the public’s right to information and transparency in its police department; and

WHEREAS, it has come to the attention of the City that there is uncertainty under the current state of the law as to the public’s right to view and/or obtain copies of police body camera footage under the Alabama Open Records Act, Ala. Code § 36-12-40, et seq., where such footage is part of an ongoing police investigation; and

WHEREAS, it has further come to the attention of the City that there is no current law directly addressing the extent to which the Mobile Police Department must disclose its internal policies regarding the disclosure of police body camera footage.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF MOBILE that the Mayor be, and he hereby is, authorized to seek an Opinion from the Attorney General on the following issues:

1. Does a police department have an obligation under the Alabama Open Records Act, Ala. Code § 36-12-40, et seq., to produce body camera footage of an incident where-the incident involves a minor and is subject to an ongoing police investigation?

2. Does a police department have an obligation under the Alabama Open Records Act, Ala. Code § 36-12-40, et seq., to disclose its
internal policies regarding policy body camera footage, including disclosure of the same, and if so, to what extent?

The City Council further resolves that the Mobile Police Department shall make no disclosure to the public of or relating to body camera footage that is subject to an ongoing police investigation until the Attorney General has spoken to the issue of disclosure and the applicability of Ala. Code § 36-12-140, etseq. to the same.

 

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