The public could soon hear directly from the Colorado Springs Police Department when officers fire their weapons and kill or injure someone.
The department said the planned "significant event briefing videos" are a step toward increasing transparency with the community.
The department says the pre-recorded videos will include an account of the incident with information from police records followed by the playing of relevant footage from body cameras worn by officers. They could also potentially include 911 audio and photos of evidence.
CSPD said it will release the videos within three weeks of each incident unless blocked by a court order or active investigation. Law enforcement agencies in Colorado are legally required to provide body-cam footage within 21 days of a request. The new policy means a request won't be necessary.
All briefings will be posted on the department's Cases of Interest web page.
CSPD described the initiative as a direct result of a project the department commissioned to evaluate its use of force policies.
“We are at a critical juncture in policing, where agencies should be taking steps to show what happened in significant events that occur between police and community members," CSPD Chief Adrian Vasquez said in a release. "It is vitally important that we inform the public about the facts of an event by being transparent in the release of evidentiary video whenever legally possible."
Vasquez will also have the discretion to release videos for other incidents as he sees appropriate.
D'Ontay Roy is the chair of Colorado Springs' Law Enforcement Transparency and Advisory Commission (LETAC), a group aimed at improving the relationship between CSPD and the public He said that while LETAC wasn't involved in the development of the initiative, he's confident that it's a good step forward.
"I believe CSPD is trying to build better community relationships," Roy said, "and it is my personal hope as CSPD builds upon the recommendations of the Transparency Matters report that in the short-term/long run more efforts of this type will be more proactive than reactive and lead towards mutual trust between police agencies and the community."
He also said there is more work to be done.
Records from CSPD show the number of police shootings doubled from five in 2020 to 10 in 2021. Data for 2022 is not yet available. Information on the number of fatal shootings wasn't specified in the data set.
According to the department, a majority of suspects shot by officers since 2010 were armed and either posed an "imminent threat to officers or civilians" or fired a weapon at police.
Of the close to 50 reports of police shootings identified in police records since 2010, two-thirds involved non-Hispanic white people. About one in five of the suspects were Black.
The announcement comes as at least six Colorado Springs Police officers are facing lawsuits alleging excessive force.
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