Body Worn Cameras
The recent emergence of body-worn cameras has already had an impact on policing, and this impact will only increase as more agencies adopt this technology. The decision to implement body-worn cameras should not be entered into lightly. Once an agency goes down the road of deploying body-worn cameras and once the public comes to expect the availability of video records it will become increasingly difficult to have second thoughts or to scale back a body-worn camera program.
A police department that deploys body-worn cameras is making a statement that it believes the actions of its officers are a matter of public record. By facing the challenges and expense of purchasing and implementing a body-worn camera system, developing policies, and training its officers in how to use the cameras, a department creates a reasonable expectation that members of the public and the news media will want to review the actions of officers. And with certain limited exceptions that this publication will discuss, body-worn camera video footage should be made available to the public upon request not only because the videos are public records but also because doing so enables police departments to demonstrate transparency and openness in their interactions with members of the community.