Wichita Police Chief Looking To State Lawmakers To Clarify Video Policy
Wichita’s police chief wants the state Legislature to clarify laws on video taken by officers with body-worn cameras.
In an eight-minute video posted on the Wichita Police Department social media channels this week, Chief Gordon Ramsay talks about transparency issues and the use of body-cam video. He says he supports the use of body cams but does not think the video should be available to anyone who asks for it.
"You have to remember, in body camera footage, we catch people at the worst moments of their lives. We go into people’s homes…and should that be available to neighbors, ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends? What should be public and what shouldn’t?" he says.
The Wichita Police Department started issuing body-worn cameras to officers in 2015, and created policies for when a camera is activated and when footage would be available to the public.
Under the department’s policy, people can submit an application and pay a $35 fee to obtain footage .
The department does not release video of high-profile incidents and certain situations, including cases that involve minors or victims of sexual assault, as well as video that shows the interior of private residences, health care facilities, mental health facilities or social service offices.
Ramsay says the body cam footage is valuable. He says the police department has been able to solve several citizen complaints by allowing access to video footage of the incidents.
"I do believe that on high-profile incidents where the community has concerns that that should be public. Right now policies don’t allow for that and we are going to be doing a comprehensive review of our video policies to make sure we are up to national standards and best practices," he says.
Ramsay says he’s planning a comprehensive review of the department’s policies.
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