The Austin Police Department has said it will attempt to release video footage of incidents where police seriously injure or kill someone faster than in the past.
Previously, the ministry’s policy was to release these images within 60 days; the new policy announced on Friday shortens this to 10 business days.
“I really believe it’s the right thing to do. Our public deserves quicker responses, ”acting DPA chief Joseph Chacon told KUT. “This transparency is what will help rebuild any trust that may have been eroded over the past few years.”
Chacon acknowledged that the department failed to deliver on its previous promise to release dashboard and body camera images of critical incidents within 60 days. (According to department policy, a critical incident includes gunfire where an officer is involved, a case where someone is seriously injured or killed by police, or when someone dies in police custody.)
Data analyzed by KUT revealed that the department has taken an average of 99 days to post video footage of four critical incidents since April 2020. For example, it took 94 days for police to post video footage of a policeman shooting on Mike Ramos in Southeast Austin.
“It’s just not good for the public to wait for months to get information about something that happened several months ago,” Chacon told KUT.
He said he expects police to be able to meet this shorter deadline as the department is giving up much of the production work involved in these videos. In the past, videos have included a scripted introduction by a member of the police department, as well as additional context that connects the clips.
Chacon said any explanation regarding the videos will be much shorter in the future. He said the Police Oversight Bureau would still be involved in reviewing these videos before they are released.
A spokeswoman for the office said she supported the new policy change.
“The updated policy announced today is much more aligned with the community’s expectations for the publication of these images and increased transparency,” wrote Sara Peralta, public information and marketing manager for the office of Austin police surveillance, in an email.