Body Worn Cameras

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Dillon Police Department Policy on Portable Audio/Video Recorders

In winter 2015, Dillon Police Department began using Body Worn Cameras for officers on patrol. The Dillon Police Department will equip all officers with small body worn cameras to record interactions for traffic stops, arrests, disturbances, etc. at a cost of approximately $10,000. Below is the Department policy on Portable Audio/Video Recorders.

This policy provides guidelines for the use of portable audio/video recording devices by members of this Department while in the performance of their duties. Portable audio/video recording devices include all recording systems whether body-worn, hand held or integrated into portable equipment.

This policy does not apply to lawful surreptitious audio/video recording, interception of communications for authorized investigative purposes or to mobile audio/video recordings (see the Investigation and Prosecution and Mobile Audio/Video policies).

The Dillon Colorado Police Department may provide members with access to portable recorders, either audio or video or both, for use during the performance of their duties. The use of recorders is intended to enhance the mission of the Department by accurately capturing contacts between members of the Department and the public.

All recordings made by members acting in an official capacity shall remain the property of the Department regardless of whether those recordings were made with department-issued or personally owned recorders. Members shall have no expectation of privacy or ownership interest in the content of these recordings.

Prior to going into service, each uniformed member will be responsible for making sure that he/she is equipped with a portable recorder issued by the Department, and that the recorder is in good working order. If the recorder is not in working order or malfunctions at any time, the member shall promptly report the failure to his/her supervisor and obtain a functioning device as soon as practicable. Uniformed members should wear the recorder in a conspicuous manner or otherwise notify persons that they are being recorded, whenever possible.

Any member assigned to a non-uniformed position may carry an approved portable recorder at any time the member believes that such a device may be useful. Unless conducting a lawful recording in an authorized undercover capacity, non-uniformed members should wear the recorder in a conspicuous manner when in use or otherwise notify persons that they are being recorded, whenever possible.

When using a portable recorder, the assigned member shall record his/her name, DPD identification number and the current date and time at the beginning and the end of the shift or other period of use, regardless of whether any activity was recorded. This procedure is not required when the recording device and related software captures the user’s unique identification and the date and time of each recording.

Members should document the existence of a recording in any report or other official record of the contact, including any instance where the recorder malfunctioned or the member deactivated the recording. Members should include the reason for deactivation.

This policy is not intended to describe every possible situation in which the portable recorder should be used, although there are many situations where its use is appropriate. Members should activate the recorder any time the member believes it would be appropriate or valuable to record an incident.

The portable recorder should be activated in any of the following situations:

All enforcement and investigative contacts including stops and field interview (FI) situations Traffic stops including, but not limited to, traffic violations, stranded motorist assistance and all crime interdiction stops Self-initiated activity in which a member would normally notify the Communications Center Any other contact that becomes adversarial after the initial contact in a situation that would not otherwise require recording Members should remain sensitive to the dignity of all individuals being recorded and exercise sound discretion to respect privacy by discontinuing recording whenever it reasonably appears to the member that such privacy may outweigh any legitimate law enforcement interest in recording. Requests by members of the public to stop recording should be considered using this same criterion. Recording should resume when privacy is no longer at issue unless the circumstances no longer fit the criteria for recording.

At no time is a member expected to jeopardize his/her safety in order to activate a portable recorder or change the recording media. However, the recorder should be activated in situations described above as soon as practicable.

Colorado law permits an individual to surreptitiously record any conversation in which one party to the conversation has given his/her permission (CRS § 18-9-303).

Members may surreptitiously record any conversation during the course of a criminal investigation in which the member reasonably believes that such a recording will be lawful and beneficial to the investigation.

Members shall not surreptitiously record another department member without a court order unless lawfully authorized by the Chief of Police or the authorized designee.

Once activated, the portable recorder should remain on continuously until the member’s direct participation in the incident is complete or the situation no longer fits the criteria for activation. Recording may be stopped during significant periods of inactivity such as report writing or other breaks from direct participation in the incident.

Many portable recorders, including body-worn cameras and audio/video transmitters, emit radio waves that could trigger an explosive device. Therefore, these devices should not be used where an explosive device may be present.

Members are prohibited from using department-issued portable recorders and recording media for personal use and are prohibited from making personal copies of recordings created while on-duty or while acting in their official capacity.

Members are also prohibited from retaining recordings of activities or information obtained while on-duty, whether the recording was created with department-issued or personally owned recorders. Members shall not duplicate or distribute such recordings, except for authorized legitimate department business purposes. All such recordings shall be retained at the Department.

Members are prohibited from using personally owned recording devices while on-duty without the express consent of the Supervisor/Sr. Officer on Duty. Any member who uses a personally owned recorder for department-related activities shall comply with the provisions of this policy, including retention and release requirements.

Recordings shall not be used by any member for the purpose of embarrassment, intimidation or ridicule.

Any time a member records any portion of a contact that the member reasonably believes constitutes evidence in a criminal case, the member shall record the related case number and transfer the file in accordance with current procedure for storing digital files and document the existence of the recording in the related case report. Transfers should occur at the end of the member’s shift, or any time the storage capacity is nearing its limit.

Any time a member reasonably believes a recorded contact may be beneficial in a non-criminal matter (e.g., a hostile contact), the member should promptly notify a supervisor of the existence of the recording.

Classification of the Audio/Video Recording

When an officer has stopped the audio/video device the officer shall classify the recording. These classifications will serve to assist in locating the recording and each classification will have an established retention time. Any recording in any classification can be changed to another classification or have its retention status changed for the benefit of an investigation or organizational needs. Classifications, descriptions and retention are as follows:

(a) NON EVENT- A miscellaneous activation of the audio/visual system which does not meet the requirements of any other classification. Retention period will be ten (10) days.

(b) INCIDENT ONLY- Activation of the system where there may be some liability or possibility of a complaint or future action. Examples may include moving items from the roadway, motorist assists, traffic control, general citizen contacts, contacts in which there was a violation of the law but the officer has chosen to issue a verbal or written warning. These recordings should be available for a period of time to address any complaints or issues that could be resolved by reviewing the recording. Retention period will be thirty (30) days.

(c) TRAFFIC- Traffic stops involving a citizen, vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, etc. where the officer issues a citation into Municipal Court or County Court for traffic related offenses. Retention is 180 days unless needed for court or other purposes.

(d) CASE REPORT- Anytime a recording of evidentiary value has been made during an investigation and a case report has been generated. These recordings are subject to general policy and procedure regarding the retention of case related evidence.

(e) RESTRICTED- Any recording that documents an incident which is deemed sensitive in nature, whether evidentiary or mutual accountability in nature can have access restricted to select individuals. This status would be deemed necessary by a supervisor and entered by an audio/video administrator. Examples could include cases involving use of force resulting in SBI, officer involved shootings, allegations of criminal actions by an officer or by a citizen with an officer as a victim, and investigations alleging misconduct. Access to a restricted MAV must be approved by the Chief. These recordings are subject to general rules and policies regarding the retention of case related evidence.

Recordings made using portable audio/video devices pursuant to this policy are department records and may only be released as provided on the Records Release and Security Policy or for other authorized legitimate department business purposes.

When preparing written reports, members should review their recordings as a resource. However, members shall not retain personal copies of recordings. Members should not use the fact that a recording was made as a reason to write a less detailed report.

Supervisors are authorized to review relevant recordings any time they are investigating alleged misconduct or reports of meritorious conduct or whenever such recordings would be beneficial in reviewing the member’s performance.

Recorded files may also be reviewed:

Upon approval by a supervisor, by any member of the Department who is participating in an official investigation, such as a personnel complaint, administrative investigation or criminal investigation.

Pursuant to lawful process or by court personnel who are otherwise authorized to review evidence in a related case.

By media personnel with permission of the Chief of Police or the authorized designee.

In compliance with a public records request, if permitted, and in accordance with the Records Release and Security Policy.

All recordings should be reviewed by the Custodian of Records prior to public release (see the Records Release and Security Policy). Recordings that unreasonably violate a person’s privacy or sense of dignity should not be publicly released unless disclosure is required by law or order of the court.

Users of the audio/video recording systems and supervisors shall be trained on the proper use of the system and shall become familiar with this policy prior to deployment of the audio/video recording device.

Supervisors shall ensure that the audio/video recording units assigned to their officers are in working order and the officer using the audio/video recorder has been properly trained. Supervisors will monitor and verify that their officers are properly using the audio/video recording units as required by departmental policy and training. That includes proper categorizing and logging of evidence.