• Daniel Zehnder

Deactivation of Body-Worn Cameras in Residences?

Updated: Oct 27


Unless mandated by state law, agencies should be very careful when crafting body-worn camera policies that allow the deactivation of the camera in any location where there is a 4th Amendment expectation of privacy. Circumstances that allow for deactivation should be limited and clearly defined. Failure to do so places officers and agencies at risk. The public perception of any critical or controversial incident that is not recorded on an officer's body-worn camera is almost always negative. Agencies need to weigh the risks of a well-intended body-worn camera policy allowing for deactivation inside a residence against the myriad of negative circumstances that could occur with the camera off. This is a balancing act of privacy vs. accountability. Body-worn camera video can be protected from release or heavily redacted. That is better position to be in than to wish you had the video to begin with. Finally, relying of a camera's buffer to be the backup recording safeguard is predicated on the hope that an officer thinks to reactivate the camera, in a possibly stressful situation, within the timeframe the system has to capture the event.

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