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District of Columbia Police Footage

In Washington, D.C., access to police video footage is governed by § 2-532, which also governs a right of access to other public records.

Separately from a FOIA request, if you are the subject of the video and no other individual is in the video, you can schedule a time to view the video at the police station. Your attorney and your guardian (if you are a minor) can come with you.

How to File

  • To ensure that the video has been uploaded into the database, wait 48 hours to file your request

  • Submit your request to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)

  • The request must "reasonably describe" the footage (give them the date/time/location, if possible)

The agency has twenty-five (25) business days to respond, subject to the possibility of a fifteen (15) business-day extension.

If they deny your request or if you think the fees are unreasonable, you can appeal. You can also appeal the request as "deemed denied" if you don't hear back from the agency at all.

How to Appeal

  • You must first appeal to the Mayor via a petition.

  • Include a copy of any correspondence with the MPD, and a statement as to why the record should be released.

  • Send a copy of the petition to the MPD.

  • If you don't hear back from the Mayor within 10 business days, or if the Mayor denies your appeal, you can file a lawsuit for injunctive or declaratory relief in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

  • If the Mayor grants your appeal and the MPD refuses to release the record, you can file a lawsuit to enjoin the MPD from withholding the record and to compel the production of the requested record in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

  • In the Superior Court, the burden of proof is on the MPD and the standard of review is de novo.

  • The Superior Court can watch the footage in camera to see if the denial was justified.

  • Attorney's fees and costs are available if the requester wins.

The FOIA statute has no specific time limit for filing an appeal, but D.C. Code § 12-301(8) creates a general three-year statute of limitations for all actions.

This blog is not intended to be legal advice, as the analysis might change depending upon your specific situation. For additional assistance, reach out to Joy Ramsingh, at Joy Ramsingh is an open records, open meetings, appellate advocacy lawyer and the founder of Ramsingh Legal.

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