Privacy Resource

Body-Worn Cameras in Community Supervision

Video technology has been an important public safety tool for decades. From the earliest closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems in correctional facilities to in-dash cameras in police vehicles, video technology has been used to deter criminal behavior, document encounters or behaviors of interest, and to investigate and solve crimes. The current iteration of video technology in public safety is body-worn cameras (BWC). The use of BWCs dates back to 2005 when small-scale tests were conducted in police departments in the United Kingdom (Goodall, 2007).

BWC Legislation

In late August, a Texas jury convicted former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver of the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. The uncommon verdict largely rested on footage of the incident captured on Oliver’s body camera, technology the city’s police department implemented in 2015. As more law enforcement agencies nationwide use police body-worn cameras, states are developing and refining policy guidance.

Community Perceptions of Police Body- Worn Cameras

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 current study examined perceptions of residents of two Florida counties and found a large majority of respondents supported the use of BWCs. Structural equation modeling was utilized to examine factors that influence views of BWCs.

June 25, 2017 - ICLEA presentation on BWCs

On June 25, 2017, Cheif Ed Book of Santa Fe College and First Sergeant Robert Bleyle of Syracuse University, delivered a presentation on the implementation of body-worn cameras at the IACLEA 59th Annual Conference & Exposition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The presentation shared the ins and outs of how to implement a BWC program, including a focus on grant application, policy, equipment, and storage. The speakers also highlighted the resources and sample documents to help ensure alignment with best federal practices. 

BWCs and the Accused

Cover image of the article which displays a body-worn camera recording
Source: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2017

To contribute to the important national debate about body cameras the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) then-President Theodore Simon established a working group in December 2014 and, in July 2015, the NACDL Board of Directors adopted a set of principles

BWC FAQs Card

The Greensboro, NC, Police Department recently developed a frequently asked questions card to make it easier for their officers to provide information on the department's use of body-worn cameras to community members wanting to view a BWC recording. The cards are provided to patrol officers to hand out to community members. The Greensboro police department has placed 1,000 hard copies of this card in the roll-call room at each of their four patrol substations.

To view a copy of the BWC FAQ card, click here

BWC Model Legislation

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.