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The original item was published from 11/12/2020 4:14:05 PM to 11/19/2020 12:05:02 AM.

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Police

Posted on: November 12, 2020

[ARCHIVED] STATE OF THE TOWN TOPIC: BODY WORN & IN-CRUISER CAMERAS

As part of the Police Department’s FY22 Capital Plan submission, the Department is requesting sixty one thousand four hundred dollars ($61,400.00) for the purchase of sixteen (16) body-worn cameras for officers and five dash/prisoner cameras for police cruisers.  The chosen vendor is GETAC (www.getacvideo.com)   

 

In light of recent events across the country, there have been debates on a national, state and local level on police reform.  Aside from changing police policy and procedure, many advocates are demanding all police officers wear body-worn cameras to accurately document police-citizen interactions, particularly in use of force situations.  Furthermore, the use of such cameras are considered best practices as outlined in President Obama’s Task Force of 21st Century Policing which the Department has embraced since 2015.   

 

The perceived benefits of the cameras are that they: (1) increase transparency, legitimacy and community trust, (2) increase internal accountability, (3) improve officer behavior, (4) improve citizen behavior, (5) expedite resolutions of complaints and lawsuits, (6) document circumstances of how and when force is used, and (7) create opportunities for training. 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Body Worn and Cruiser Cameras

 

1.     What is a body worn camera (BWC)?

 

A camera worn on the exterior of the police officer’s body which is clearly visible on their chest, which captures and records audio and video of the police/citizen encounter. 

 

2.     Why are officers wearing cameras? 

 

BWC’s serve as a tool to document a police officer’s interaction with citizens.  They are also valuable in maintaining community trust, transparency, and accountability. Given the great relationship we share with our community, the Department continues to be proactive in strengthening our connection with its citizens.

 

3.     When will police officers be recording with their body cameras?

 

Police officers will activate their BWC and cruiser cameras whenever they respond to calls for service or have citizen contacts where they anticipate taking law enforcement action.

 

4.     What about my privacy during police encounters?

 

The Lincoln Police Department is aware of the legitimate privacy concerns associated with BWC.  Our officers will record, per policy, when investigating criminal activity or a violation of law.  Prior to the release of any recording, the department will ensure compliance with department policy, Rule 14 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure and/or the Massachusetts Public Records Law which may include the redaction of certain elements of the recording including innocent parties and non-related identifiers such as registration numbers, addresses, etc.  Our priority is to protect the right of privacy and ensure the safety of non-related parties. 

 

5.     Are there places where officers cannot use their BWC? 

 

Typically, officers will not record in places where there is an expectation of privacy, such as restrooms, locker rooms, and medical care facilities — unless there is reasonable suspicion a crime is being committed or the recording of the location is material to an investigation.

 

Before entering a private residence, without exigent circumstances, officers must obtain the occupant(s) consent before recording inside the residence.  If the occupant declines to give consent, and absent exigent circumstances, the BWC shall be turned off while inside the residence.  However, when responding to an exigent circumstance inside a private residence, the BWC will be activated throughout the exigency.  Once the exigency is over, and when practical, officers must obtain consent from the occupant(s) in order to continue to record.  Any request to turn the BWC off and the officer’s response shall be recorded. 

 

6.     Can I ask the officer to turn off the BWC?

 

Yes, after receiving notice of being recorded, the citizen may ask the officer to turn off the recording.  However, the request to turn off the recording and the officer’s response will be recorded for documentation purposes. 

 

7.     Are officers required to tell citizens that they are being recorded?

 

Under Massachusetts Law, officers are required to give notice to citizens that they are being audio recorded.  Officers are not required to inform citizens that they are being video recorded while in a public place.  However, per policy, officers are required to provide citizens with notice that they are being both audio and video recorded.

 

8.     Can the officer tamper with the audio and video recording?

 

No, the GETAC system is specifically designed to prevent the user from altering or deleting any recordings.

 

9.     How are the videos stored?

 

All videos are stored in secure cloud servers in compliance with the FBI Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) standards.

 

10.  What is the process for obtaining a copy of a video recording?

 

The release of any recording must be approved in advance by the Chief of Police or department designee. Recordings shall be released in accordance with department policy, Rule 14 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure and/or the Massachusetts Public Records Law.  The Chief of Police may authorize the release of any recording deemed to be in the best interest of the community and public safety.

 

11.  What happens to a video once it is recorded?

 

At the end of each shift, officers will upload the data to a cloud-based service to store the files. Depending on the type of video captured, data will be saved in accordance with the department policy, Rule 14 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Massachusetts Public Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. 

 

12.  Why is it necessary for in-cruiser camera system when officers have BWC’s?

 

The in-cruiser camera system will have two (2) cameras, one facing forward (dash camera) documenting the perspective of the officer’s view. The dash camera is able to capture a wider perspective when officers respond to calls for service, conduct traffic stops, and have interactions which occur in front of the police cruiser.  The second camera will be in the rear passenger compartment (prisoner camera) where a prisoner is seated while inside the cruiser.

 

13.  Who can I speak with should I have questions?

 

You can contact Chief Kevin Kennedy at 781-259-8113 or kkennedy@lincolntown.org.

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