The Camden County, New Jersey, Police Department began its body-worn camera (BWC) program in 2015 with a pilot program. Camden County received its first Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) BWC Policy and Implementation (PIP) grant in 2016 and a second BWC grant in 2017. The agency employs around 650 employees, including 450 sworn officers, and is responsible for providing preventive and reactive policing services for the residents of Camden City, which covers 8.9 square miles and serves a population of 78,000.
Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have spread rapidly to municipal and collegiate police agencies across the country. The research and guidance on BWCs, however, has focused primarily on their implementation in municipal agencies. To date, only one study assesses their use in a collegiate setting. Though collegiate agencies are similar to municipal agencies in many ways, there are important differences between a college campus setting and a traditional town, city, or county.
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.