Justice Department to Tie Police Body Camera Funding to Good Policies

The Justice Department announced today that it will tie federal grants for police body camera programs to the existence of good body camera policies. This is great news and the department is to be praised for using its leverage to help ensure that this technology increases community trust rather than eroding it, and fulfills its potential to reduce police violence.

According to the announcement, “successful applicants must demonstrate a commitment and adherence to a strong BWC Policy framework.” The solicitation for grant applications from the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance includes further detail:

Policy and practices should at minimum address technology usage, evidence acquisition, data storage and retention, as well as privacy issues, accountability, and discipline. They must also consider the impact of data collection and use on public trust and police legitimacy. Public record laws, which allow public access to information held by government agencies, including law enforcement, should also be evaluated and, when practicable, modified to protect the privacy of the individuals whose records they hold and to maintain the trust of the community. These policies and practices should at a minimum increase transparency and accessibility, provide appropriate access to information, allow for public posting of policy and procedures, and encourage community interaction and relationship building.

This language is highly confidence-inspiring, as it hits all of the key question marks that we have with any camera deployment. Simply requiring departments to have a policy, and make it public, is a good step all by itself, but as we have learned (most recently in the case of the LAPD), that is not enough as some departments are deploying cameras in ways that will NOT increase “public trust and police legitimacy.” As with everything to do with police body cameras, the devil lies in the details, and we hope that when it comes to those details the Justice Department’s implementation of this grant program will live up to its promising announcement. We would also like to see the department use its power of the purse in other ways to pressure police departments that do not have appropriate camera policies in place.

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Anonymous

If anything goes wrong, they can just lie and deny as the Long Island Police who killed Eric Garner did. The murder was caught on mobile video by a civilian who was later arrested and lambasted as a crook and thug by the media.

Cameras are helpful in some cases, but not in every case. It might accidentally on purpose turn off at a certain point or after killing someone you might pretend they are breathing and going through the motions of getting some medical help for the victim. If the police are determined to get someone, they will.

J. Bach

Cameras are always helpful but what is equally important is audio recording. Turning the cameras off/on should only be allowed for a washroom break and these are done via radio transmission of out of service (personal) and in service (personal)*. Everything else gets recorded. All out of service breaks are reviewed with documentation by a certified reviewer (does not need to be a supervisor).

Now here is the tough part. The public does not have a right to see/hear any camera footage. The police officer/supervisor and any other official also do not have a right to see/hear the camera footage until the paperwork is filed -- or a request to view footage form is filed by the officer prior to filling out the paperwork.

Storing the footage post shift / serious incident is mandatory. The only modifications are per request from (a) supervisor / internal affairs or other investigator and (b) thru automated request from dispatch. The only request for modification from dispatch is are 2 -- first, when a notification is made -- of death or serious accident to a family member/guardian and 2nd when attending a serious incident involving injury/death that was not caused by police (directly/indirectly). Attending a notification should be a on-site radio transmission with the notification code with a off-site code when the notification is completed. This footage is not for public dissemination but may be requested to be privately viewed by the person/people notified and for training purposes (controlled viewing for both.

Only modifications allowed are to cut and separate from the full shift recording is the notification period. All other edits are to be copies made of blocks of time at the request of supervisors and/or the officer involved.

If a camera malfunctions, then it is immediately reported and a certified reviewer will document the mal-function and provide the review to command/investigatory staff as per policy.

This is the cost of having cameras/recording devices but the pay-off will hopefully be for a more accountable police force with fewer complaints / lawsuits.

It is important to note that there are situations that are completely new and without procedure. The camera/audio recording can provide an important tool for creating policy/procedures where none have been. Mistakes are part of life but I believe that camera/audio recording can lead to fewer repeating mistakes.

Curtis P California

A systemic cultural change with law enforcement and the citizen's of the communities that they serve has to occur. The first step to accountability and transparency is for all law enforcement officer's to immediately deploy dashboard camera's and body camera's to record all interactions with the public while being detained or questioned. Contact your local politician to enact legislation to protect us from corrupt, overzealous, dishonest, abusive, violent, law enforcement. Please be part of the solution, Contact your local politician and let them know your fed up with law enforcement not being transparent and accountable for their treatment of detained or incarcerated citizens. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All California Police Departments, Deputy Sheriff's, Marshall's, Correction Officer's, Jailer's, Jail Mental Health Staff, Jail Medical Staff, California Highway Patrol, L.A.F.D.
Body Camera's & Dashboard Camera's equals Truth..!!!!

Anonymous

I have tried to request accountability and transparency for our law enforcement since 2012. I was retaliated against for fulfilling my obligations as an Occupational Therapist Intern in 2011. I have tried to report Medicare fraud, Elder abuse and Neglect (including two deaths), discriminatory labor practices and hate crimes among SJSU/CSU faculty and staff and not one law enforcement is enforcing our laws. I contacted the Santa Clara County District Attorney Rosen, San Mateo County District Attorney Wagstaff, Daly City Police and SJSU campus police, the California Justice Department since 2012. They are arrogant and no longer enforce our laws. They do not report crimes and illegal conduct because any report affects funding. Our Tax payers money is spent to fund their pensions and the large amount of settlements for the harm they are causing. Sorry, but California has a broken law enforcement and broken justice system.

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