Police body cameras capture crazy stuff on the daily, be it a woman falsely accusing an officer of sexually assaulting her or officers shooting and killing an unarmed homeless man. The cams, typically worn on an officer's vest or lapel, are getting popular in departments nationwide, and they have the potential to either indict or defend police actions in the field.
So wouldn't it be cool if you could watch all that video without having to deal with filing a pesky public records request? In an effort to solve the problem of receiving a massive amount of those requests, the Seattle Police Department has actually created a YouTube channel that shows raw body cam videos from its police officers.
Now you can see watch dozens of police interactions from the cop's perspective.
In this one, for example, we see police arresting a group of men as they are marching onto I-5 for a protest. Around the 15:00 mark, a cuffed man chants "Hands Up!"
About a dozen cops are wearing the cameras as part of a pilot program, according to the Associated Press. Seattle is reportedly the first police department to routinely post the footage.
The YouTube channel came out of a hackathon the Seattle PD hosted last year. Its purpose was to develop software that would minimize the time it would take to complete a public requests for videos, which have at times taken years to fill. It also aimed at protecting the privacy of all the people captured in the video.
The winning solution: software that automatically redacts and mutes body cam footage (protecting privacy), and then starting a YouTube channel that regularly allows the community to watch the raw video. Police hope the approach will help narrow video requests, possibly even saving the department time and money by minimizing frivolous requests in the long run. Some videos that have been cleared for public disclosure are also uploaded onto the channel with full resolution and full audio.
This video shows a man getting arrested after an apparent incident at a convenience store:
This one shows a protester getting tackled and arrested by a group of police during a protest. It's not clear why he was singled out by police:
This redacted video shows a man getting arrested on the stoop of a building, it's not clear for what. Just before he is arrested, the video appears to cut out, generally considered a no-no for police body cam footage.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.