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Dallas Police Chief announces new policy to release videos of critical incidents within 72 hours
Dallas, Texas
   
 
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Updated, July 1 at 6:43 p.m.: Revised to include a statement from an attorney for the Dallas Police Association.

Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall on Tuesday announced a policy to release videos of police shootings and use-of-force incidents within three days of someone suffering serious injuries or dying. But it was unclear how the changes would work in practice.

Videos of police shootings and in-custody deaths are often a challenge to obtain through open records laws because the department will often consider them part of an “ongoing investigation” and withhold their release. It is unclear if the policy will apply to cases that become part of a criminal investigation.

According to a copy of the new General Orders obtained by The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday evening, the chief still has the “discretion to publicly release, in whole or in part” any video recording related to a critical incident. The policy also says it does “not waive the department’s right to withhold other audio or video recordings or investigative materials in the same or any other” case.

The department said videos also will be made public when someone dies in custody, according to a police news release.

Previously, videos involving police shootings, use of force or deaths in custody were released on a case-by-case basis, and in some instances when people have died, it has taken years for the footage to become public.

The department did not respond to follow-up questions Tuesday.

The announcement comes after more than a month of protests in Dallas against police brutality.

Bob Gorsky, an attorney who represents members of the Dallas Police Association, the largest police union in the city, said in a statement on Wednesday that Hall’s video release policy is “misguided” and violates state law. He added that releasing the videos so quickly jeopardizes the rights and safety of police officers and those of crime victims.

“As always, the Dallas Police Association and its legal counsel welcome the opportunity to provide Chief Hall with constructive input into a policy which has wide-ranging implications that clearly have not been considered,” according to the statement. “To date, we have not been asked.”

Earlier this month, after criticism about the use of less-lethal ammunition at protests, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax and Hall announced several policies aimed at reform. Among them: formally banning chokeholds and any force intended to restrict a person’s airway in its General Orders; a warn-before-shooting policy; and a duty to intervene when force is applied inappropriately or is no longer required.

Hall had promised to implement the video policy, which is effective immediately, by the end of June.

Hall said the order will allow an opportunity for the injured person or relative of the deceased to review the footage before it’s released. The officers who are involved in such incidents, the district attorney and the Office of Police Oversight director will also have an opportunity to preview the recordings.

“This is another step in our efforts to establish a foundation of transparency and trust among DPD and our communities,” Hall said in a statement.

The department also said it will begin posting monthly traffic and citation data, including analysis of race and ethnicity.

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