Dashboard: What’s new in police body cameras?
Updates on the latest body-worn camera legislation, funding, training and more
By Police1 Staff
While body cameras have been a fixture in many departments for close to a decade, the 2020s will likely be remembered as the era when body-worn cameras became essentially universal. Not only does a whopping 93% of the public favor their use by police officers, but according to last year’s Police1 State of the Industry Survey, 82% of officers likewise want to wear them on the job.
And city councils and legislatures are taking notice. While only one state required widespread adoption of body-worn cameras by police officers prior to May 2020, seven states now have mandates in place, which is only likely to grow.
But it isn’t just legislation that’s constantly evolving. The technology itself is continually adapting, giving departments capabilities they never even knew to dream of. Yet with greater choice also comes greater due diligence responsibilities.
To help agencies stay up to date, we’ve put together the following dashboard, which will be updated as more information becomes available, highlighting five key areas of bodycam-related coverage.
INDEX OF topics IN THIS GUIDE
- Legislation and policy
- Product developments and deployments
- Additional resources
Legislation and policy
- Alaska has among the strictest privacy laws in the country, the Anchorage Daily News reports, and now these laws may be holding up the state’s largest police department from implementing the body-worn camera program approved by voters last year through their passage of a $1.8 million annual levy. Drafts of the department’s policy have been stalled for several months due to concerns raised by the city’s legal department.
- While many departments allow officers to temporarily stop or mute recordings on their body cameras to exchange information with other officers, a state representative in Minnesota says that the practice is straining the trust between police and the public. That’s why he’s backing a $100 million public safety investment, which would fund body-worn camera programs for police departments while prohibiting the altering, erasing or destroying of any recording.
- Minnesota lawmakers want to help police departments in the state buy body cameras for their officers, but for the second year in a row, that money might get held up by a disagreement over when and how departments release footage to the public. While Democrats have introduced a bill that includes $2.5 million for body cameras, departments who use that money would be required to let family members review footage within seven days in the event of an officer-involved shooting death.
- The subject of when officers should be allowed to view body-worn camera footage, particularly after use-of-force incidents, is an ongoing debate in many communities. While the Justice Department has recently recommended that officers with the city of Portland, Oregon, not review any of the recordings before first reporting and then completing all interviews associated with the incident, many agencies disagree with this approach, including 20 of the 22 largest PDs in the country. Though a bill was recently signed into law in New Jersey that allows officers to review their bodycam video before writing reports in some instances, members of the public have begun to push back. A recent survey of 2,110 community members in Portland, Oregon, also found that more than half of respondents did not want officers reviewing footage that captures use of force before writing reports or being interviewed.
- Advances in body-worn camera technology are allowing agencies to more seamlessly adhere to legislative requirements and departmental policy. A recent episode of the Policing Matters Podcast breaks down why BWC tech and policy must go hand-in-hand.
- Through the Ohio Body-Worn Camera Grant Program, 109 PDs across the state will be splitting $4.7 million dollars to either implement programs for the first time or upgrade existing technologies.
- The Department of Justice recently provided Rhode Island a $1.5-million boost toward its goal of equipping all police officers with body-worn cameras by the end of 2022.
- A new BJA program aims to help tribal and smaller law enforcement agencies buy body cameras.
Product developments and deployments
- The Durham County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina has become one of the nearly 50% of sheriff’s departments nationwide to implement a body-worn camera program. In launching the program, “DCSO now joins other law enforcement agencies using modern technology to improve transparency while implementing one of the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice,” the department said in a release.
- The Daytona Beach Police Department is among the first law enforcement agencies in Florida to have body-worn cameras capable of livestreaming. Supervisors will look in on the livestream when they haven’t heard from an officer, the department’s body camera program supervisor said; they also receive notifications when an officer draws a weapon.
- The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office has become one of only a few law enforcement agencies in Northeast Florida to equip officers with bodycams; the program cost about $400,000 to get off the ground, and includes an interface with the agency’s previously purchased in-car camera system.
- Two California PDs recently announced that they will be using a body camera analytics platform to automatically review and analyze BWC footage in an effort to improve professionalism and de-escalation capabilities. Truleo, the company behind the platform, aims to help departments put their growing stores of BWC videos to more productive use.
- The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has launched a video series that highlights incidents officers are involved in through the lens of their body cameras. The project is intended to increase transparency but also build support for officers.
- Agencies are increasingly turning to body-worn camera footage to produce critical incident videos in the aftermath of officer-involved shootings and other controversial incidents; the goal is to quell misinformation by providing a view of as many relevant facts as possible.
- Find additional product developments on the Police1 Body Cameras Product Page.
- What does the empirical evidence say about the impact of viewing body-worn camera videos on an officer’s memory? The Force Science Institute’s Lewis “Von” Kliem explains both the benefits and potentially detrimental consequences of using BWC footage to enhance memory. Building upon these findings, FSI’s Thomas McCarty explains how to mitigate the legitimate risks, including the risk of corrupting an officer’s memory.
- Two recent studies on body-worn cameras deliver some surprising results, writes Chuck Remsberg of The Calibre Report. One study elucidates the impact of BWC footage on federal litigation while the other shows just how influential body cameras can be on violator satisfaction and impressions of police “legitimacy” during traffic stops.
- Reviewing bodycam video is a smart way to provide cost-effective, in-house, peer-to-peer training based on real scenarios that occur in the officers’ jurisdiction.
- Developing a comprehensive training plan that does not stop after body-worn camera deployment will benefit both agencies and officers; here are the three phases of BWC program training that departments need to adopt.