Today the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) released Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: Recommendations and Lessons Learned. The report analyzes some of the costs and benefits of law enforcement using body-worn video technology.
“Law enforcement agencies across the nation are contemplating how best to use body-worn cameras and these guidelines will help them weight the costs and benefits,” said COPS Office Director Ronald L. Davis. “There are many considerations when implementing a body-worn camera and this report will help chiefs and sheriffs make the best decision for their jurisdiction.”
The publication was developed jointly by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and COPS through a cooperative agreement under the FY 2013 Community Policing Development Program. PERF conducted research on the use of body-worn cameras, identified promising practices and lessons learned from the field, and produced a set of guidelines for agencies interested in implement a body-worn camera program. Included in this effort was a one-day executive session with more than 200 police chiefs, sheriffs, scholars, representatives from federal criminal justice agencies, and other experts present to share experiences and lessons learned about body-worn cameras, to identify promising practices from the field, and to engage in a dialogue about the issues surrounding cameras.
The publication reviews the perceived benefits of body-worn cameras and considerations surrounding body-worn cameras before proposing a set of comprehensive policy recommendations that reflect the promising practices and lessons that emerged from PERF’s conference and its extensive discussions with police executives and other experts following the conference.
The policy recommendations cover all aspects of what a police department should consider when deciding to use body cameras including:
· Basic camera usage, such as who will be assigned to wear the cameras and where on the body the cameras are authorized to be placed;
· Recording protocols, including when to activate the camera, when to turn it off, and the types of circumstances in which recording is required, allowed or prohibited;
· The process for downloading recorded data from the camera, including who is responsible for downloading, when data must be downloaded, where data will be stored, and how to safeguard against data tampering or deletion;
· The length of time recorded data will be retained by the agency in various circumstances;
· The process and policies for accessing and reviewing recorded data, including the persons authorized to access data and the circumstances in which recorded data can be reviewed; and
· Policies for releasing recorded data to the public, including protocols regarding redactions and responding to public disclosure requests.