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.
Implementing body-worn cameras in a police agency has an impact on virtually every key aspect of police operations, including training, investigations, community relations, resource allocation, and more. With the growing adoption of body-worn cameras, the need for effective law enforcement training is paramount to help ensure that officers have the necessary knowledge and tools to confront the difficult tasks they encounter on a daily basis. The following considerations and resources will serve as helpful information in support of this challenge.
This article provides a commentary of Northamptonshire Police’s 10 year body-worn video (BWV) journey from a small pilot in 2006 to a highly developed position whereby BWV is culturally accepted and embedded across the force (with the exception of firearms officers). The availability of digital evidence is increasing and is growing in significance, and this brings with it a number of challenges.
Given the national interest in equipping police with body-worn cameras (BWCs), it is important to consider public attitudes concerning the technology. This article draws on the results of a national survey of citizen opinions of BWCs. The survey includes items related to general support for BWCs, opinions on their potential
In summer 2015, my department received a complaint from a citizen that she had been sexually assaulted by one of my officers while the officer cited her for larceny. The complainant would not come to police headquarters, but instead provided her account by phone. The Internal Affairs Commander began an investigation and, two hours later, I learned that the officer was one of three in our department who was field-testing and evaluating a body-worn camera (BWC), and that the entire incident had been captured on a BWC.