SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – The San Antonio Police Department will start releasing portions of body cam footage of officer-involved shootings within 60 days of the incident. According to a document obtained by KTSA News, SAPD’s revised policy also applies to 911 calls after officers shoot someone or use force resulting in death.
Police Chief William McManus plans to present the revised body cam policy to the San Antonio City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.
“In the interest of further enhancing transparency, SAPD will implement a Body-Worn Camera Video Release policy that will take effect on Monday, December 21, 2020,” said McManus. “As Chief of Police, I understand that trust and accountability are vital to effective policing. I believe this policy balances the responsibility to share information with the public while maintaining due process and privacy rights.”
The revised policy memo states that the department will post audio and video recordings of “critical incidents” after approval by the police chief 60 days after the date of the incident with the exception of calls related to domestic violence. SAPD also may release photos, witnesses’ recordings, “and other information that will help describe the incident and place the recordings and audio in the appropriate context.”
Critical incident recordings will be posted on the SAPD website and kept for 12 months. The release of audio and video recordings could be delayed beyond sixty days to protect the safety of the individuals involved, to protect an active investigation, to protect confidential sources, or to protect the constitutional rights of the accused.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg says he’s pleased with the changes.
“I asked for the body cam policy review because I think it’s in the public’s interest to have that footage available when it makes reasonable sense to do ,” Nirenberg said. “Obviously, we want to respect any investigative processes that are underway with that footage, but having a clear expectation of when footage would be available to the public, and also a written explanation as to why not, I think is in everyone’s best interest.”
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he’d like to see the sheriff implement a similar policy.
“I think we’re dragging our feet a little bit too long at the County,” said Wolff.
He brought up the shooting death of military veteran Damien Daniels by Bexar County deputies during a struggle in August and said, “we still haven’t concluded the investigation. We still do not have the body cam, so I’d like to see that policy and see if we can’t get our sheriff to implement it,” Wolff said.