AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is changing the way it releases body cam video for officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths and use-of-force incidents.
APD announced a new critical incident public release policy that states video footage related to a critical incident will be released within 10 business days of when the incident happened.
Previously, APD’s policy on video release gave the department 60 days from the date of incident to release video.
“The purpose of this policy is to share vital, timely information with the community while maintaining the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” APD said about the change in a release.
The release said the police chief will discuss with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of Police Oversight to figure out which details and video are ready to release. If the chief decides a release will not happen or a delay is needed, APD will send out a statement saying so and explaining why.
“To shorten the timeline significantly, we will not be doing the type of production that you had seen on these videos previously,” Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon told KXAN in an interview Friday.
Materials that are released could be redacted and edited to protect privacy. Events considered “critical incidents” that would warrant a release of video are:
- Officer-involved shootings, including unintentional discharge while in the course of duty or in response to a call, regardless of whether a person was hit by gunfire and even if no allegation of misconduct is made
- A use of force resulting in death or serious bodily injury as defined by Section 1.07, Texas Penal Code
- All deaths while an arrestee/detainee is in the custodial care of the Department
- Any other police encounter where the Chief of Police determines release of video furthers a law enforcement purpose
- This General Order does not include or apply to officer-involved shootings of an animal, an unintentional discharge during pre-shift equipment checks, or during training/qualifications on the firing range
It’s all in an effort to remain transparent with the community about these incidents.
Just last month, the Office of Police Oversight was considering reworking this same policy, after some videos weren’t released in the original 60-day timeframe because of delays from the winter storm. For a hostage situation and shooting that happened Feb. 10 in east Austin, APD didn’t release the video until June 16.
Relevant video footage that can be used in these critical incident briefing videos includes body and dash cam video. Information about the incident will be released in a live news conference, which will be live streamed on APD’s social media.