New Jersey's new attorney general says videos showing the use of deadly force by police should usually be released within 20 days.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a directive Monday advising prosecutors and police agencies to release such videos when the initial investigation is "substantially complete."
The policy would give local officials discretion to withhold video past the 20-day deadline if necessary. But it would require them to submit a reason for the delay to the attorney general's office.
"This policy not only makes good on the promise of transparency and accountability embodied in these devices, but also reaffirms our understanding that only when there is trust in police-community relations will people have confidence in the fair administration of justice and will officers be able to perform their difficult jobs effectively," Grewal said in a statement.
Before any video is released, prosecutors should consult with the people who appear in it or their families, the attorney general said. To protect privacy and safety, identities in the footage can be obscured, or officials can decline to release it altogether.
The guidance applies to all uses of potentially lethal force captured by body-worn cameras or dashboard cameras.
Grewal says the directive was issued in light of a 2017 state Supreme Court ruling that found the town of Lyndhurst erred in refusing to release dashboard-camera video of a fatal police shooting.
In that case, North Jersey Media Group, requested several police files and dashboard-camera videos related to the 2014 police chase, and subsequent fatal police shooting, involving 23-year-old Kashad Ashford, but authorities declined to release the information. The case was litigated for three years until the state Supreme Court made its ruling last July.
The directive won't take effect until an ethics committee determines whether it complies with rules on releasing evidence.