New policy urges quick release of police shooting videos

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Videos showing police officers in New Jersey using deadly force should usually be released within 20 days, the state’s new attorney general said in a directive to prosecutors and police agencies.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in the Monday directive that such videos should be released when an initial investigation is “substantially complete.”

The policy would give local officials leeway to withhold video past the 20-day guideline if necessary, but it would require them to submit a reason for the delay to the attorney general’s office.

Before any video is released, prosecutors should consult with the people who appear in it or their families, the attorney general said. To protect privacy and safety, identities in the footage can be obscured, or officials can decline to release it altogether.

Inspiration for the policy came from a 2017 state Supreme Court ruling that found the town of Lyndhurst erred in refusing to release dashboard-camera video of a fatal police shooting, Grewal said.

The guidance applies to all uses of potentially lethal force captured by body-worn cameras or dashboard cameras.

The policy “makes good on the promise of transparency and accountability embodied in these devices,” Grewal said.

The directive won’t take effect until an ethics committee determines whether it complies with rules on releasing evidence.

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