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Menlo Park: Police body camera policy may let people request video deletion

 

Menlo Park may amend its police body camera policy to allow the deletion of videos with no investigative relevance upon request if the recorded individuals sign a waiver of liability.

City Councilman Ray Mueller, who has raised concerns about the current minimum two-and-a-half-year retention time for all videos, said he and Police Chief Bob Jonsen had worked out the compromise.

"I believe this balances residents' privacy rights with the department's desire to monitor its police force and protect itself from false accusations," Mueller told the Almanac, adding that he commends the police chief for working on the issue with him.

"I think having a release waiver available for individuals who are not part of any investigation, complaint or lawsuit is fair for everyone," Jonsen said.

The police department had based the retention time on the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit over civil rights violations -- two years in federal court and one year in state court. Officers may be held personally liable in the event of a lawsuit, leaving the department wary of deleting any recordings when a complaint may not immediately surface.

Although other changes to the camera policy will be presented to the City Council on Tuesday, June 2, this amendment will have to wait until the city attorney has sorted out the legal issues to protect all parties from future litigation, the police chief said.

Tuesday's council meeting starts with a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. The meeting will be streamed live online.

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