News & Media

Are Denver Cops Using Body-Camera Video Like a Cheat Sheet? (via Denver Westword)

December 5, 2017  |  Michael Roberts, Westword  |  Link to article

"At present, cops employed by the Denver Police Department are routinely allowed to view body-camera video before writing reports about officer-involved shootings or in-custody deaths. In a report accessible below, a committee advising the DPD on its use-of-force policy advocates that this policy be changed in order to even the playing field with other witnesses and prevent officers from being able to spin accounts in favorable ways that fit the footage. But Chief Robert White is noncommittal about whether he'll take this counsel...

The previous April, Chief White created the Use of Force Policy Advisory Committee 'to provide community members an opportunity to supply additional feedback on the DPD's draft use of force policy,...'

The topic of body-worn cameras takes up a significant amount of the thirty-page report the committee eventually compiled. An example is the following paragraph regarding officers' access to BWC video:

'Consistent with the investigation procedures for non-DPD witnesses, following any officer-involved shooting or in-custody death, each involved officer shall be asked to voluntarily provide a statement to investigators prior to reviewing any audio or video recordings. After providing a statement, each officer may review footage from their own body-worn camera and supplement their statement with additional information if necessary.'

In the hope of learning Chief White's opinion about this suggestion, we reached out to DPD public-information officer Doug Schepman. Schepman notes...'Chief White is conducting a thorough review of the recommendations and intends to finalize policy revisions in early 2018...'

Until then, officers who shoot a suspect will probably be able to look at video of what happened before making a statement, unlike the person who takes the bullet — if he's still alive, that is."

This article originally published on November 29, 2017 from Westword and has been formatted for publication on Together Colorado's latest news page. Click here to read the full article.

Click here for the Denver Police Department Use-of-Force Policy Advisory Committee's full report.