FOIA Body-Worn Camera Advisory Opinion

On September 15, 2023, Director Allen issued an advisory opinion through the Office of Open Government concerning an individual’s request for certain body-worn camera footage from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).  MPD had released a partly redacted recording, using Exemption 2 (see D.C. Official Code § 2-534(a)(2) (permitting withholding where “public disclosure…would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”)) to partly redact the video and audio recording, including, faces, officers’ badge numbers, and an interview of a possible witness-driver. Director Allen advised that:  (1) MPD incorrectly applied Exemption 2 to redact the faces or badge numbers of on-duty officers in uniform since the officers did not have an expectation of privacy under these circumstances; and (2) MPD correctly applied Exemption 2 in redacting the faces of any third-party passersby and the driver’s statement, because the requester did not offer to the Office of Open Government, and the Director did not find, a public interest in disclosure to outweigh the privacy interest.