Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    15

    Default Can a Police Department Deny Public Access to Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    Good evening,

    Not long ago my ex interfered with child custody. My ex withheld our child for close to 30 consecutive days. During that time, I went to the local police station in the town where my ex lives and asked the police to standby while I went to my ex’s home and attempted to regain custody of the child during my custodial time. I showed the police officer the court order stating I have sole legal custody and primary physical custody.

    The officer and I left the station and drove to my ex’s apartment. The officer asked me to wait outside while he went inside the building. About 10 minutes later the officer came outside without the child. The officer then told me to file a complaint with the family court.

    I did file with family court and my ex’s time with the child was reduced to supervised visitation. That has nothing to do with my question.

    I filed an OPRA request with the police department for ‘any and all video and reports regarding the incident’. I received a one page report with some basic details. My request for the Body Worn Camera was denied. The Records Custodian wrote on the OPRA request “Denied – Juvenile”.

    I filed a complaint with the NJ Government Records council regarding the denial wherein I stated I agreed to mediate. The town’s solicitor has agreed to mediate the issue as well.

    My understanding of the NJ OPRA law is that the burden of proof is on the record keeper to explain why denial is authorized.

    What types of arguments should I expect from the solicitor as to why they believe the body worn camera audio \ video should not be released?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,287

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    It sounds as if they are going to try and argue that the presence if a juvenile in the video exempts the record (the video) from release. However, absent the child being a crime victim, I do not see a specific exemption for this situation pursuant to the NJ OPRA. Though, as I have discovered in my state, there are often laws that seemingly contradict others, so there may be another statute elsewhere that can be interpreted as prohibiting the release of such a record.

    Do you feel you need the video in order to proceed with a complaint against your ex? I would think that the fact he did not comply coupled with any police report or Dispatch (CAD) record of the call would be sufficient.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
    View Post
    . Do you feel you need the video in order to proceed with a complaint against your ex?
    I have several reasons for wanting the video. These include but are not limited to:

    My child has some significant issues stemming from the time the child was withheld, the child is in therapy now. Ex stated that the child said things to the police that do not sound like things I believe the child would have said and are patently false. If the child did make false statements to the police I would like to and I would like the therapist to help the child understand how important it is to tell the truth.

    In a subsequent PfA hearing, which was denied and dismissed, ex stated that police officer told them to attempt to obtain PfA. I have the transcript for this hearing. If the video contradicts this statement I intend on using ex's words PfA hearing to attack credibility.

    In your opinion, what types of arguments should I expect from the solicitor as to why they believe the body worn camera audio \ video should not be released?

    Thank you

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,287

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    As I said, I believe they will try and argue that because there is a juvenile on the video that it is not subject to release. I am not in your state, so other than what I can read in the OPRA, I cannot say. The OPRA does not appear to offer an exception for juvenile-related matters unless the juvenile is a victim, or the matter is part of an ongoing investigation. But, as I mentioned, there may be some other statute that indicates juvenile related matters are confidential that they might try and rely upon.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,194

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    Just a thought here.

    I get the impression you will be representing yourself at this mediation. If so, that's probably a bad idea.

    You will go in, explain what you want and that it's been denied. The city will then cite some obscure law that prohibits release of the video.

    Then what are you going to do?

    You will have been blindsided by a law you've never heard of, had no time to research and don't know how to rebut. You will probably respond by making some half hearted emotional argument that has no basis in law and then lose.

    If you have not done so, hire an attorney to represent you. Prior to mediation he will seek discovery, or more than likely call the town's solicitpor informally and ask what the issue is. Being forewarned as to the law in question, he will have time to research it, see what there is in your favor and perhaps resolve things one way or another without mediation. I doubt you will get the same cooperation from the town solicitor if you do so on your own.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,169

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    Quote Quoting L-1
    View Post
    Just a thought here.

    I get the impression you will be representing yourself at this mediation. If so, that's probably a bad idea.

    You will go in, explain what you want and that it's been denied. The city will then cite some obscure law that prohibits release of the video.

    Then what are you going to do?

    You will have been blindsided by a law you've never heard of, had no time to research and don't know how to rebut. You will probably respond by making some half hearted emotional argument that has no basis in law and then lose.

    Prior to mediation he will seek discovery, or more than likely call the town's solicitpor informally and ask what the issue is.
    I doubt that discovery is available in mediation with the agency. Even if it is, there isn't much to seek in discovery that would be useful. The video cannot be disclosed since that is the object of the dispute. And one cannot demand a copy of the law in discovery — the law is publicly available to anyone to look up. With that in mind, the first thing I expect any lawyer she would hire to do is research that law to see if there is indeed an exemption that protects this video. Consulting a lawyer that is very familiar with OPRA might be a good idea, as that lawyer might be able to tell the OP off the top of his/her head if the agency is relying on a valid exemption.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,194

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    When I speak of discovery, I mean the basis for denying to release the video. The town's attorney isn't going to clam up with the OP's legal counsel. He's probably going to tell him they are basing their denial on section such and such of a certain code. He will then research that law and see if there is a workaround.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,169

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    Quote Quoting L-1
    View Post
    When I speak of discovery, I mean the basis for denying to release the video. The town's attorney isn't going to clam up with the OP's legal counsel. He's probably going to tell him they are basing their denial on section such and such of a certain code. He will then research that law and see if there is a workaround.
    Right, if it was not clear to the lawyer what the basis for denial was certainly the lawyer would ask the solicitor for the citation to the exact exemption claimed. I'm not seeing any obvious exception that would cover this situation though. The exemptions are summarized by the state here:

    https://www.nj.gov/grc/meetings/pres...s%20(2015).pdf

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,194

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    But, there may be more than one place to look.

    For example, California's laws on disclosure of public records and their exceptions are found in that section of Government Code pertaining to the Public Records Act. However, if you go to California's Welfare and Institutions Code, there are additional laws restricting the release of records pertaining to juveniles that most folks don't know about, but a police Custodian of Records might.

    The OP may wish to research that state's laws pertaining to juveniles. I'm going to bet there is some obscure section in there prohibiting release of the video (record) because it depicts a juvenile.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,287

    Default Re: NJ: Town Denied My Request for Body Worn Camera Audio and Video

    Quote Quoting L-1
    View Post
    But, there may be more than one place to look.

    For example, California's laws on disclosure of public records and their exceptions are found in that section of Government Code pertaining to the Public Records Act. However, if you go to California's Welfare and Institutions Code, there are additional laws restricting the release of records pertaining to juveniles that most folks don't know about, but a police Custodian of Records might.

    The OP may wish to research that state's laws pertaining to juveniles. I'm going to bet there is some obscure section in there prohibiting release of the video (record) because it depicts a juvenile.
    Precisely what I was referring to when mentioning to the OP that there might be some other statute outside the NJ OPRA that might apply, or be thought to apply, here.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Police Conduct: How to Get Police Body Cam Video
    By sunshinek731 in forum Police Investigations
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-14-2018, 05:46 PM
  2. Privacy Crimes: Is it Illegal to Put a Video Camera With Audio in the Bedroom of a House
    By stallional in forum Criminal Charges
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-30-2018, 06:20 AM
  3. How to Obtain Police Dash Camera Audio/Video
    By Kringle in forum Moving Violations, Parking and Traffic Tickets
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-16-2010, 11:00 AM
  4. Police Conduct: Recording audio or video of police actions
    By miliamber in forum Police Investigations
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-07-2006, 10:42 AM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources