The Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) on Wednesday honored Seattle Police Department Chief Operating Officer Mike Wagers for his work toward improving department transparency through the adoption of new technologies.
From the WCOG:
SEATTLE PD CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER TO BE HONORED BY THE WASHINGTON COALITION FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT FOR WORK ON BODY CAMERAS.
Seattle—-When the Seattle Police Department received an open records request to produce every video ever recorded by the department, they didn’t stonewall or obfuscate like so many other agencies have done. Instead, SPD Chief Operating Officer Mike Wagers offered to work with the requestor on complying with these requests, while balancing privacy concerns and public disclosure requirements.
For taking such a positive, proactive stance, the Washington Coalition for Open Government will present Wagers with a Key Award at 2:00pm during tomorrow’s city council meeting. Key Awards are given to any person or organization who has done something notable for the cause of open government within the past 12 months.
In November, an anonymous computer programmer filed several massive public disclosure requests for records including for all videos captured by police body cams. The department had planned a six-month trial program to outfit 12 officers with body cams, with a view toward expanding the use of body cams more widely in the future.
The massive requests threatened to derail the test program. The SPD’s Wagers responded by asking the programmer if he would withdraw his request and instead work with the department on developing a workable method of complying with such requests in the future, with a goal of balancing privacy concerns and public disclosure requirements.
The department is being recognized for trying to work out a reasonable solution rather than simply stonewalling or abandoning its body-cam initiative.
The WCOG has also enlisted Wagers to participate in a panel on police body cameras at a March 14 statewide open government conference.
Wagers is the second member of the Seattle Police Department to receive an award from WCOG for efforts to improve governmental transparency. Previously, WCOG awarded a member of the department’s Public Affairs Office for increasing the availability of crime information on SPD’s blog, the Blotter.