In September 2018, the University Police Department submitted a Letter of Intent Proposal to the 2019-2020 Investment Fund for Core Needs (IFCN) which outlined a request for funding for Body-Worn Cameras for the officers of the University Police Department. The Letter of Intent indicated that “outfitting the officers of the University Police Department would assist with accurately recording interactions with any student, staff, or faculty member. Having body cameras would allow for a clear and transparent accounting of any and all interactions, traffic stops, etc. that may take place on our campus. The University Police Department respects the privacy of our campus community members and takes pains to balance the privacy against safety needs on campus. Cameras are a tool that will assist University Police in maintaining order and fostering a proper learning environment. Cameras protect campus community members by serving as deterrents to inappropriate action and police officers from false accusations.
On Thursday, February 27, 2020, the formal training/in-service for the University Police Department officers took place with the training representative from the company that University Police purchased the body-worn cameras from. The University Police Department has also issued a formal General Order for its Department officers outlining the guidelines and regulations for use of the body cameras.
We are informing the campus community of the use of body-worn cameras so that they are aware of their implementation as of February 27, 2020. Ultimately, the body-worn cameras will protect and enhance the safety and security of all campus community members, including University Police.
University Police Body-Worn Camera Frequently Asked Questions
UP officers have access only to their own footage. All lieutenants and the chief have access to all members’ footage, as well as their own.
It is possible for a BWC to be manually turned off or become removed from the magnetic holder during a physical encounter. Any officer intentionally turning their camera off could be subject to counseling, discipline, termination or even prosecution based on the scenario and facts. Additionally, if an officer intentionally or neglectfully turns off his/her camera they may have to document it in writing.
If the student was arrested, the Monroe County District Attorney’s (DA’S) Office will have access to the video for prosecutorial purposes. The DA’s Office will provide video to defendants as required per current rules of Discovery. Any other request to access footage may be subject to Freedom of Information Law procedures.
When an officer activates their BWC, there is a 30-second buffering period as the camera boots up to record; the buffering mode holds the previous 30 seconds of video, however there is no audio leading up to the recording. This is why we recommend and train officers to start recording prior to the contact or arrival to ensure all relevant audio is captured.
UP officers are required to have their BWC on when performing police-related activities. (Some examples of police-related activities are 911 calls, office calls, self-initiated street stops, traffic stops, and certain transports). BWC cameras are individually issued to officers. Officers remove them from the charging station at pre-shift and dock them at the end of their shift.
If an officer is off-duty they generally will not have their BWC with them since the cameras are docked at the UP office.