Letters to the Editor

Legislature to clarify body camera policies

Call it the Ferguson Factor: one a national news story, and the other a local decision by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. We’ve watched anger and frustration escalate since August, when a young man was gunned down in Missouri. The public does not know exactly what happened that evening because the officer was not wearing a camera, and witnesses haven’t provided consistent observations.

Ferguson illustrates the rationality and urgency for police officers to implement body or vehicle cameras. On the local front, AG Ferguson recently addressed personal privacy issues when he stated that officers do not need to turn off their cameras if a citizen objects, because their interactions with cops are public.

But the issue of police and cameras does not stop with Ferguson’s ruling. The 2015 state Legislature must take this issue on and provide rules and guidance about the appropriate level of public disclosure, whether officers can download and process their own videos (or avoid the perception of tampering by using a third-party vendor) as well as video retention questions.

Also, where and how will local jurisdictions store terabytes of archived videos? The “cloud” is hopefully about to get a lot more dense.

Kate Severson