April 13, 2012
Pollet measure would ensure videos aren’t destroyed before they are made available to the public
OLYMPIA: State Representative Gerry Pollet (D-North Seattle) is expressing concern over a King County judge’s ruling that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) can legally destroy dash-camera recordings before they are released through public records requests. In a bizarre catch-22 acknowledged by King County Judge Jim Rogers, the SPD is legally allowed to destroy the dash-cam video recordings as soon as they are subject to release under the Public Records Act.
“When charges are filed or dropped, these videos, which are public records, need to be available for public review without destruction,” said Rep. Pollet. “Without disclosure, possible violations of civil rights cannot be reviewed by the media and the public. If the SPD isn’t interested in changing its policy, I will introduce legislation to prohibit the destruction of dash-cam videos.”
Rep. Pollet’s announcement came in response to the decision issued yesterday in a suit brought by KOMO TV’s Tracy Vedder, whose request for police dash-cam videos was denied by the SPD. The SPD has a history of denying disclosure of videos for the allotted three years, as well as destroying video records after the three years has passed under the city’s record retention schedule.
A long-time advocate for open government and board member for the Washington Coalition for Open Government, Rep. Pollet was the prime-sponsor of legislation to require training of all public officials in their duties to disclose public records and meet in open meetings this year. The Attorney General’s office has said that this change will reduce taxpayer costs in the form of legal fees and penalties paid by state and local agencies.
For more information:
Rep. Pollet, 206.729.3234
Media staff contact:
Billie Toyra, 360.786.7224