State high court to hear KOMO's public records suit

State high court to hear KOMO's public records suit  »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Washington state's highest court will hear a case brought by the KOMO Problem Solvers involving the public's right to records.

In the simplest terms, the city of Seattle wants to keep its police dashcam videos under wraps for three years. However, KOMO News believes the public the public should have quicker access to the footage.

After fighting for more than a year to gain access to the Seattle Police Department's database of dashcam videos, KOMO News filed a lawsuit, alleging the department is breaking state public records law.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, contends the police department has intentionally and illegally stonewalled the Problem Solvers over and over again.

Now the state Supreme Court will decide.

Every day in Seattle, cameras on the dashboard of police cruisers record officers' interactions with the public. Police regularly use the recordings to bolster criminal cases, but the same cameras have also caught acts of police misconduct.

The dashcam footage have played a role in a federal investigation that found Seattle cops routinely use excessive force and have a disturbing pattern of biased policing.

But in most cases, those videos are kept under wraps for three years.

After a lower court approved the city's three-year delay policy, KOMO News asked the state Supreme Court to step in. The court has agreed, and will likely hear oral arguments early next year.