draft (4.7.15) -- body-worn camera report (moon)

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  1. 1. 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY3 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.......5 INTRODUCTION6 BENEFITS OF A BODY-WORN CAMERA SYSTEM Body-Worn Cameras: a Tool to Help Police the Police.8 Body-Worn Cameras: a Tool to Help the Police......9 POTENTIAL CONCERNS OF A BODY-WORN CAMERA SYSTEM Privacy Concerns..12 Concerns Related to Impact on Community Relationships....15 Concerns Related to Impact on Police Officers..16 Potential Dissent from Police Unions....17 Public Requests for Video Footage..17 Officer Requests to Review Footage..20 LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES TO IMPLEMENTING A BODY-WORN CAMERA SYSTEM Cost...21 Choosing a Type of Body-Worn Camera.22 Data Storage and Management.23 CONCLUSION........25 APPENDICES Appendix A Proposed PGPD Body-Worn Camera Test and Pilot Program...27 Appendix B: CALEA Proposed Language for In-Car and Body-Worn Cameras38 Appendix C: Body-Worn Camera Vendors Proposed Specifications Comparison Chart40
  2. 2. 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY As this report was in its final stages, two stories came up that highlighted the need and urgency of a body-worn camera (BWC) pilot program for the Prince Georges County Police Department (PGPD). The first story involved what may very well be the first-ever case of a law enforcement officer in the United States facing criminal charges due to footage from that officers own BWC.1 The other story reported on dramatic decreases in complaints against the San Diego Police Department as well as in departmental use-of-force incidents after the launch of its own BWC program.2 It is highly likely we will continue to read and hear about stories like the ones mentioned above in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Stories like these also provide the justification as to why PGPDs BWC Committee even exists. The BWC Committee was given the responsibility of examining and analyzing the potential benefits and pitfalls of requiring PGPDs 1700 sworn officers to wear a BWC as part of their standard gear. In this report we will discuss those potential benefits and pitfalls. The benefits of BWCs are tremendous. They keep the behavior of police officers in check and ensure law enforcement agencies keep their officers accountable for their actions. This has the overall effect of promoting community policing. However, BWCs also confer many benefits that have been hardly discussed. They make the jobs of police officers easier by dramatically reducing complaints and lawsuits against them, drastically cutting the amount of time they have to spend in court or on paperwork, and by assisting prosecutors in criminal cases. Most importantly, BWCs have the ability to keep police officers safe and alive. But the potential concerns of BWCs are tremendous as well. There are legal concerns, policy- based concerns, logistical/implementation concerns, and cost concerns. Legal concerns include questions over invasion of privacy, public requests for footage, as well as when and how much video an officer must record. Policy-based concerns include questions over what effect BWCs could have on community relationships and police department morale. Logistical/implementation concerns involve questions over data storage, the types of BWCs to be used, and how to require PGPDs police officers to comply with recording requirements. As far as cost, the price tag for the BWCs (which range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per unit) is conceivably a lesser concern when data storage and other unforeseeable expenses related to the cameras are more likely to cause sticker shock. PGPDs Information Technology Division estimates the cost of the pilot program alone to run between $200,000 and $600,000. 1 Ritter, Ken, Vegas policeofficer wearingbody camera facingbattery case, Associated Press,17 March 2015; http://news.yahoo.com/vegas-police-officer-wearing-body-camera-facing-battery- 205644396.html?soc_src=mediacontentsharebuttons&soc_trk=ma 2 Perry, Tony, San Diego policebody camera report: Fewer complaints, less useof force, Los Angeles Times, 18 March 2015; http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83088560/
  3. 3. 4 The BWC Committees goal in this report is to present objective and fairly balanced information about BWCs to aid the decision-making process. The Committee is unanimous in its belief that a pilot program is absolutely necessary to measure, in real-time, the merits of the benefits and pitfalls of the BWCs as stated in this report and to discover others that could not be envisioned in this report. We suggest proceeding carefully and in a measured manner because the decision to use or not use them may eventually be one of the biggest decisions this Department will have ever made.
  4. 4. 5 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The Office of Inspector General (OIG) thanks the members of BWC Committee for their invaluable time, hard work, dedication and insight in the research and planning which undergirds this project. Those individuals are: Cpl. Stephen Burd, Accreditation Manager (Acting), Accreditation Section Jamar Herry, Assistant County Attorney, Office of Law Maj. Jason Johnson, Commander, Internal Affairs Division Alan Lee, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology Division Maj. Samir Patel, Chief of Staff, Office of the Chief The OIG also specifically notes the work of the OIG Law Fellow Cedric Moon in the legal research for this project, as well as the compiling and drafting of the numerous iterations of this report. Assisting the Committee in this task was OIG Legal Extern Jacqueline Morley (American University Washington College of Law). Carlos F. Acosta Chair, Body-Worn Camera Committee Inspector General Prince Georges County Police Department
  5. 5. 6 INTRODUCTION In light of recent incendiary events and policy developments within police departments around the country, Prince Georges County Police Department (PGPD) should seriously consider the implementation of a BWC program. Such a BWC program could have benefits for both police officers and the public alike. The BWC program could decrease false complaints made against officers while also fostering a renewed sense of security and transparency with the community. Although there are many benefits to such a program, there are also a number of possible areas of concern. A few that have been raised include issues of privacy, the uncertain capacity and capability to preserve evidence and store data, and overwhelming financial costs. There are additionally questions of how police officers will react to being required to wear the extra equipment on a shift-to-shift basis. Other issues include how the BWCs would compromise officer safety, morale, or interfere with their current job requirements. This report will provide an analysis of some of these concerns, examine possible solutions, and discuss decisions other police departments have made to address them. Additionally, because BWC technology is ever- developing, there will be new issues and aspects of the discussion that will arise in the future and cannot be covered in this report. To begin a discussion on BWCs, despite the current wave of popular sentiment in favor of them, the dearth of statistical data or studies on them is worrisome. There have been a few police departments within the United States that have tested BWCs even before the recent public clamor for them. However, these pilot programs have been generally restricted in breadth and scope, making it difficult to determine whether or not a BWC program will adequately work for a substantially sizeable police department such as the PGPD. To date, the most comprehensive study of BWC programs has been that compiled by the United Kingdoms Home Office -- which is, to put it very generally, akin to a British amalgamation of the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. While the U.K. Home Offices guide presents a largely favorable perception of BWCs, it is important to consider the many inherent differences in the character of British and American law enforcement agencies, communities they serve, and nature of crimes. For any decision PGPD ultimately makes with respect to a BWC program, it absolutely must keep in mind there is still no conclusive proof, at the time of this writing, such a program works to keep communities and officers safer. As the Mesa (Arizona) Police Department (one of the first law enforcement agencies in the country to test a BWC pilot program) cautioned, "properly managed, the program is an asset to the organization; however, it can expose the department to increased liability without effective oversight. The PGPDs evaluation of a BWC program should also factor in the reality that in todays world, cameras are everywhere. In the widely known stop-and-frisk case, Floyd v. City of New York, the court held for the legality of public recording of officers, stating "[cameras] will provide a contemporaneous, objective record of stop-and-frisks, allowing for the review of officer conduct [that] may either confirm or refute the belief of some minorities they have been
  6. 6. 7 stopped simply as a result of their race.3 Due to recent events, the public has become growingly aware of its legal right in videotaping police officers and has increasingly used it as a tool in keeping officer conduct in check. In September 2014, the California Highway Patrol lost $1.5 million in a settlement after one of its officers was caught beating a 51 year-old grandmother by the side of a road.4 The CHP officer ultimately resigned from the force and may yet face serious criminal charges. A passing driver caught the beating on tape and the footage quickly went viral. As another testament to the ubiquity of cameras, the ACLU has promoted a smartphone app called Police Tape that allows the phone owner to secretly videotape police officers and send the footage directly to an ACLU-operated server.5 Also, Witness, an international human rights organizat


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