Editor’s note:The Lima Police Department developed the guidelines for usage of body cameras with the input of the following organizations: Allen County Prosecutor’s Office; Crime Victim Services, the Black Ministerial Alliance, the NAACP, both major hospitals and local schools. The guidelines follow:
General Directive 6.26 Body Worn Camera
PURPOSE: To establish guidelines for the use, management, storage, retrieval, and supervision regarding the Body Worn Camera (BWC).
POLICY: The City of Lima Police Department (LPD) has adopted the use of BWCs (video and audio) to provide for supplemental documentation of events, actions, conditions, and statements made during officer-involved events including, but not limited to, arrests, uses of force, and other critical incidents; presentation in court as evidence; protection of members against false or inaccurate complaints, accusations, or claims; and as a training and evaluation aid. LPD’s use of BWCs shall be in accordance with this policy.
INTEGRITY OF VIDEO RECORDINGS: The use of any body worn camera (BWC) not issued by LPD is prohibited unless approved by the Chief of Police or his designee. All digital recordings from any BWC shall be used for official law enforcement purposes only and are the property of LPD.
BWC EQUIPMENT: The BWC shall be affixed to the front of each officer’s uniform at or above the horizontal midline of the torso so that it is clearly visible to persons with whom the officer comes in contact. The positioning of the BWC will enable the BWC to capture the best recording possible of the officer’s scene and interactions with persons on that scene. It is the officer’s responsibility to ensure that the BWC is properly affixed to his or her uniform so that no obstructions interfere with proper recording. Unless authorized by the Chief of Police, employees shall not disassemble the camera or attempt to access the internal storage, files, programs, or configuration of the BWCs either wirelessly or by direct connection.
SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES: Any supervisor who becomes aware that an officer has a malfunctioning or defective BWC shall determine whether the BWC can be replaced or repaired prior to the officer reporting for assignment. If a supervisor determines that there is not a BWC available, the supervisor may authorize the officer to report for assignment without BWC equipment. Sergeants shall review relevant BWC recordings prior to approving any administrative reports as they relate to incidents involving a response to resistance, pursuits, or vehicle crashes involving City issued vehicles.
OFFICER RESPONSIBILITIES: Officers issued a BWC shall:
A: Be responsible for the care and custody of all BWC equipment assigned to the officer.
B: Ensure that the BWC used is the BWC assigned to them.
C: Inspect the assigned BWC device daily to ensure that there is no visible damage and that the device is in proper working order.
D: Immediately report a dead battery or any malfunction or loss of BWC equipment to a supervisor. If authorized to work an assignment without fully functional BWC equipment, the officer shall notify dispatch of the authorization immediately upon receiving such authorization.
E: After the BWC unit is activated:
1. Record events in accordance with this Policy.
2. Advise citizens that a camera is on and recording audio and video at the first reasonable opportunity, keeping officer safety a priority.
F: At the end of a shift:
1. Complete a 360 degree walk around inspection of their assigned police vehicle, making a BWC recording and verbally noting any new damage discovered and report same to their immediate supervisor.
2. Inspect the BWC and related equipment to ensure there are no visible or obvious signs of damage.
3. Place the BWC in the transfer dock at the end of the shift in order to begin the uploading process for all other captured video.
G: Secondary Employment.
1. BWC will be utilized while working authorized secondary employment that requires the officer to be in the uniform of the day.
2. Officers must upload any video captured during police-related extra employment activities as soon as practicable, but not later than 72 hours after the event.
3. Officers shall adhere to all BWC Policies.
ACTIVATION OF THE BWC:
The BWC has three modes: Off Standby, and Activate. Normally, while performing routine matters, and prior to participating in any law enforcement activities, officers shall keep the BWC in Standby mode. Officers shall place the BWC in Activate mode to record all law enforcement activities regardless of dispatch status. Officers shall continue recording until the law enforcement activity is completed or until there is a reason, as permitted by this policy, to deactivate the BWC.
A: All captured media is an official record of the Lima Police Department. Accessing., copying, or releasing any captured media for any purpose other than a law enforcement purpose is strictly prohibited and subject to discipline.
B: Officers shall not edit, delete, or alter captured media.
C: The existence of captured media shall not replace a thorough, accurate, and complete RMS report or Form 1.
D: Officers using a BWC shall:
1. Successfully complete training on all BWC directives and instructions (e.g. inspection, start up, use, shutdown, and upload).
2. Be responsible for all equipment assigned to them. An officer whose issued BWC is damaged, lost, or stolen shall immediately notify their supervisor and complete a Form 1 and RMS report.
3. Document the existence of captured media when completing any police reports or documents (e.g. daily duty report, Form 2, Form 3, or Citations).
4. Review, in the officer’s discretion, BWC footage prior to documenting any incident, to ensure the incident is documented thoroughly and accurately.
E: Officers shall activate the BWC prior to taking any police related action including, but not limited to:
1. Encounters with victims, witnesses, and suspects, including those that involve or may involve a stop or investigation based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
2. All citations, uses of force, detentions, and arrests.
3. All warrant and warrantless searches and seizures including, but not limited to, those of persons, vehicles, containers, houses, buildings, other places, and objects.
4. All domestic violence calls including suspect and/or victim interviews.
5. All interactions with persons for whom the officer knows to have or has reason to suspect of having a mental illness or knows or has reason to know is experiencing a mental health crisis.
6. Assisting other officers engaged in law enforcement activity, whether or not the other member has a BWC activated.
7. Pursuits (vehicle and foot) and emergency response driving.
8. When asked to by a citizen during the interaction with the citizen.
9. While en route to crimes in progress or just occurred where fleeing suspects or vehicles leaving the crime scene may be captured on a recording.
10. Crime or accident scenes where captured media can help document, enhance and support members’ written reports, evidence collection, investigations, and court testimony.
11. Other events, situations, and circumstances including, but not limited to, armed encounters, acts of physical violence, civil disturbances, and criminal or suspicious activity.
12. Any situation that a member believes captured media may be of use.
If the BWC is deactivated during the course of any of the listed actions in Section E of this General Directive, the officer must articulate the reason(s) for deactivation verbally during recording, and in the written report that may be required for said incident.
F: Members shall be permitted to deactivate the BWC after a citizen has been notified that a BWC is recording in the following situations:
1. Entering a private home or building where consent of the owner or person with authority to consent to the entrance is required, and that person expressly declines to permit video and/or audio recording inside the home or building. This will not apply to entrance where consent is not required or no longer required once inside the home/building, including entrances related to a search warrant, arrest warrant, domestic violence calls, and emergency or exigent circumstances.
2. When interacting with a victim or witness who refuses to cooperate if the BWC is activated. Members shall notify and obtain approval from their immediate supervisor and document by stating, while the BWC is activated, the reason the BWC is being deactivated. If practicable and reasonable, record the victim or witness requesting the BWC be turned off. This will only apply if the suspect is not possibly present and the scene is completely under control and deemed safe.
G: The BWC shall not be used in ACTIVATE MODE in the following circumstances, unless capturing evidence related to activities described in Section E of this General Directive:
1. Divisional administrative investigations without the express consent of the commanding member of the involved district/bureau/section/unit.
2. Internal non-investigative staff meetings, hearings, and encounters with other members, supervisors, command staff, or City-employed civilians assisting the Division.
3. Conversations of fellow members or civilian employees without their knowledge during routine, non-enforcement related activities.
4. Protected health information and treatment when requested by the patient, or on-scene Emergency Medical Service, or Division of Fire personnel.
5. Gratuitous captured media (i.e. effects of extreme violence or injury, exposed genitalia or other erogenous areas, etc.).
6. Any place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. dressing rooms, restrooms, etc.).
7. Images of confidential informants or undercover members, unless requested by the undercover member, their supervisor, or commanding member.
8. Conversations of citizens and/or members (i.e. administrative duties, court, community meetings, etc.).
9. School events, hospitals, or similar. Venues or organizations may have prohibitions against recording the event or recording within the facility.
H: The MUTE FUNCTION shall be used:
1. When conferring with the prosecutor’s office.
2. During conversations with undercover officers or confidential informants.
3. When consulting with a physician at a mental health facility.
4. When instructed by a supervisor.
5. Prior to activating the Mute Function, officers shall audibly note the reason why the audio is being muted.
I. Random reviews of captured media shall occur regularly.
1, Supervisors shall randomly review recordings created by members under their command and make recommendations through the chain of command about potential changes needed to the BWC program or related orders.
2. Supervisors shall also:
a. Confirm proper use of equipment.
b. Confirm compliance with this General Directive.
c. Identify areas where additional training or guidance is needed.
COURT CHALLENGES: Successful court challenges to the use or appropriateness of captured media shall be detailed in a Form 1 and forwarded to the Chiefs Office. The Form 1 shall include a summary of the ruling as well as a description of any restriction or sanction resulting from the ruling.
PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS: All police records requests for BWC captured media shall be processed in accordance with the Lima Police Department Public Records Policy and all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
Issue Date: 10/30/2018
By Order of the Chief Kevin Martin