Although body-worn cameras (BWCs) can increase police accountability, they also can encroach on victim privacy and interfere with confidential communications. BWCs record sensitive information, the public release of which could be emotionally devastating and/or dangerous to a victim. The goal of every police department is to develop BWC policies and procedures that protect a victim’s right to privacy and confidentiality, limit the number of individuals that can review the recording, and limit an officer’s ability to manipulate a recording for self-serving reasons.
Despite relatively little extant research, efforts to expand the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) in policing are increasing. Although recent research suggests positive impacts of BWCs on reducing police use-of-force and citizen complaints, little is known about community members’ perceptions of BWCs.
The ACLU has issued an updated Police Body Camers Model Legislation. The version 2.0, is a more detailed model legislation, incorporating a number of tweaks that we have been persuaded will improve the way implementing agencies deploy body cameras. One of the more significant changes involves what kind of video is subject to public release and what kind is not.
The National Institue of Justice has released its 2016 Primer and market survey on BWC's. The paper provides background context for BWC, methodology for developing the market survey, compiled results from the market survey, and considerations for implementing BWCs.
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The federal government is subsidizing dash-cams and body-cams for local police in response to high-publicized incidents of police misconduct. What does the footage really show? Should the public be able to see it all? We hear about the need for balance between privacy and so-called "transparency."
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We are learning that the implementation of body worn camera (BWC) technology involves more than the introduction of new technology into law enforcement. Full implementation of BWCs in a police agency affects key areas of operations and administration, as well as internal and external stakeholders, in significant ways. For many departments, the implementation of BWCs is in direct response to community and stakeholder concerns about police use of force and the desire for transparency in how these incidents are investigated, reviewed, and managed.
The Albuquerque department has been the subject of a Justice Department investigation in which body cameras were adopted in 2012 in the wake of controversy over police shootings, along with a requirement that officers use them to document civilian encounters.However, the cameras have hardly proven to be a solution to the department's problems. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico has been leading the way in pushing for reform of the Albuquerque police department, with its advocacy having for example played a key role in prompting the Justice Department's investigation.
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