VIDEO BODY CAMERAS

Issue

Body-worn cameras reduced the use of force by roughly 60 percent in Oakland, California, and the department
reported 18 months without an officer-involved shooting, in a city that used to average about eight such incidents a year.1

In Mesa, Arizona, police reported 75% fewer use of force complaints and a 50% decline in citizen complaints
during a body-worn camera pilot.2

But many law enforcement agencies are still weighing their options and hesitating to implement body-worn cameras because of uncertainty regarding policies and practices. This paper highlights some of the key policy issues that early adopters have faced and offers perspectives from their experiences.

Early users cite numerous practical applications and benefits from having law enforcement officers wear cameras
including:

• Documenting evidence. Cameras provide evidence and other benefits, including expedited resolution of citizen
complaints and lawsuits.
• Officer training. With capture of in-the-moment officer behavior, video presents excellent training and
coaching opportunities for how best to handle an incident.
• Preventing and resolving complaints brought by members of the public. Improvements have been shown
in both police and citizen behavior when cameras are worn in a visible location.
• Strengthening police accountability. Cameras provide transparency, which can improve police accountability
and performance.
But there are also concerns that law enforcement agencies need to address before implementing video as a form
of police reporting.
• Citizen privacy. Body-worn cameras capture crime victims in traumatic experiences, often in their own homes,
as well as witnesses and confidential informants. Privacy considerations need to be balanced against the need
for police transparency and evidence collection.
• Impact on community relationships. Police rely on positive community relationships to do their jobs. Policies need to include open communications about cameras with community members in order to
respect and protect these relationships.
• Compliance requirements. Video connected to a criminal case is required by the FBI to comply with CJIS Security Policy. Agencies need to ensure video storage platform supports CJIS compliance.
• Logistical and resource requirements. Data storage, retention, and disclosure are key concerns when implementing video policies.