Buffalo Commons


View .PDF

Footage Release Policies for the Buffalo Police Department

Date: Nov 16, 2020
Author(s): Sarah Wooton
Topic(s): Criminal Justice: General, Criminal Justice: Policing
Type: Policy Brief

To be effective accountability tools, police body cameras must be accompanied by good policies governing their usage and giving the public access to footage. Otherwise, exemptions in state freedom of information laws can be used to limit the disclosure of critical evidence of misconduct.

The City of Buffalo should pass legislation requiring:
• immediate, proactive release of footage for critical incidents, such as when a civilian dies in an incident involving the police;
• upon request, prompt and free release of footage in any case involving use of force or alleged police misconduct;
• affordable fees for other footage released upon request;
• use of redaction software to protect civilian privacy in released footage;
• a prohibition on police editing of footage except where necessary to protect civilian privacy;
In addition, the City should explore the possibility of having body camera footage maintained by an independent third party, rather than the police themselves.