What are the rules around releasing body camera footage in Alabama?

Crime

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — More police departments across the country are releasing body camera video following officer-involved shootings.

But in the state of Alabama, there are no rules on guidelines when it comes to how police body camera footage should be released to the public.

“We just need to make sure that there are policy and procedures on how to deal with this stuff whether it’s the prosecution office or the police department we need procedures on how to deal with the release of the videos,” said District Attorney Michael Jackson of the 4th Judicial Circuit.

Jackson said his office has created their own procedures when dealing with body camera footage.

“Me personally, my office we wouldn’t be rushing video out there from a body camera that we have before the trial we just don’t want to do that because defendants have a right to a fair trial,” Jackson said.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office released a statement about their procedures when releasing body camera footage.

“We review each request for footage on a case-by-case basis.  It is generally our policy not to release the footage until the case investigation and prosecution are complete,” Sgt. Joni Money said.

Attorney Eric Guster says its a smooth process for his office to gain body camera video

“To obtain footage you can issue a subpoena or often times the Birmingham police department and other departments will give you the footage,” Guster said.

However, Guster said he does believe that there need to be tighter regulations around when body cameras are in use.

“We have to make sure the officer cannot cut it off and on because they can be very selective with the footage it’s also very important that it stored somewhere neutral so when a citizen subpoenas it, lawyer subpoenas it, or a court of law subpoenas it that it’s coming from a neutral place and not in the hands of only the police department,” Guster said.

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