Seattle police now required to turn body cameras on during protests

Jun 11, 2020, 7:27 AM | Updated: 10:35 am
Seattle police, body cameras...
A line of police officers surrounding City Hall on Wednesday, June 3. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Effective immediately, all Seattle police officers have now been ordered to have body cameras recording during demonstrations where they will have contact with the public.

Trump threatens to intervene in Seattle, Inslee and Durkan respond

The new policy was enacted by an executive order from Mayor Jenny Durkan issued Wednesday.

“Activating officers’ body-worn camera video during demonstrations is an important way to provide additional accountability and help restore public confidence,” Durkan said in a news release.

The order will act as a stopgap policy while the city’s police oversight entities “convene a stakeholder engagement process that invites Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, the ACLU of Washington, the King County Department of Public Defense, and any other organizations interested in participating.”

“I ask that our civilian police oversight accountability entities work with my office and community partners to develop a long-term policy solution regarding the use of body cameras during demonstrations,” Durkan said. “We must find a solution that ensures officer accountability while not chilling the exercise of First Amendment rights or improperly surveilling our communities.”

A look inside Seattle’s newly-formed ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’

SPD’s body camera policy has been in place since 2017. At the time it was drafted, groups like the ACLU objected to cameras being used during protests, out of fear the police could use them to identify and target demonstrators.

After numerous incidents where police have clashed with protesters in downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, and more, community groups called for a reversal of that policy in an effort to hold officers accountable.

Upwards of 15,000 complaints have been filed against police to the city’s civilian-run Office of Police Accountability in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd.

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Seattle police now required to turn body cameras on during protests