Akron law mandates video release in use-of-deadly-force incidents

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AKRON, Ohio (WJW)– One Northeast Ohio city passed a new law that requires police to release body camera video whenever an officer uses deadly force or seriously injures someone.

The ordinance requires the Akron Police Department to release the video to the public within one week.

“It went to the ballot and Akron voters supported it… Eight-nine percent of the voters came out in support of this issue, from what we can tell is a record for support in our recent history,” said Ellen Lander Nischt, press secretary for the city of Akron.

Anytime a police officer uses deadly force or causes serious injury to someone video of the incident will be made public within one week. Akron city council passed the new law Monday night.

“It mandates the release of body-worn camera footage in these critical incidents where police use force against citizens…deadly force, or force that results in serious bodily injury, so these videos are going to be released within seven days of an incident…automatically online onto a YouTube page,” said Nischt.

Akron city officials said they want to be as transparent as possible when use of force incidents happen. The new ordinance would require that at least three camera angles be released in seven days, if multiple devices captured that event, and all videos would be made public within 30 days.

State law gives police departments great discretion on when body cam videos must be released to the public.

“This law just really takes all that discretion and guesswork away, and makes it really clear that within seven days of these critical incidents, that that video is going to be released,” Nischt said.

Akron city leaders said the law was sparked by a Charter Review Commission, a citizen-led group, that helped place the idea on a ballot. Body cam videos would be released in full, with only legally required redactions.

“The only time that any videos would be redacted would be if there’s a state or federal law that prohibits the city from putting information out… So there are laws that protect people’s individual privacy like your social security number or an image of a nude body, so those sorts of things would be blurred,” said the press secretary.

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