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What You Need To Know About Body-Worn Cameras: A Primer

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2014
1 page
After reviewing the benefits of police body-worn cameras, this article discusses issues that must be addressed in the purchase and use of these cameras.
The police use of body-worn cameras in recent years has substantially reduced officer use-of-force incidents and the number of citizen complaints against police; and they have increased the number of guilty pleas and plea-bargaining agreements. Police use of body-worn camers has also raised some issues that must be addressed in law and policy. Foremost is that privacy issue. Wiretap laws in some States prevent the audio recording of a police-citizen interaction without the consent of both parties. Videotaping citizens in contexts in which they expect a reasonable degree of privacy may be a violation of these laws. Another issue is the storage, management and accessibility of videotapes from police body-worn cameras. Also, because police body-worn camers have varying technological features, purchasers must decide on video resolution; file data recorded by the camera (dat/time stamp, officer ID, etc.); low-light settings; safeguards againt video editing and tampering; pre-event recording (usually 30 seconds); and battery life and performance. Protocols must also be develop;ed regarding where that body-worn camera is to be placed on the officer and when and how officer’s will manage the body-wron camera. The latter includes procedures for logging out cameras at the beginning of a shift, activating and using the cameras while on duty, and logging in cameras at the end of a shift.

Date Published: December 1, 2014