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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Zehnder

Live-streaming and Body-Worn Cameras. Is this a step in the right direction?

According to media reports, the Daytona Beach Police Department is using the live-stream capability of the Axon Body 3 camera. The reports state that police supervisors now have the capability of viewing a live-stream of an officer's BWC whenever it is activated or when the officer draws their weapon. Some points made by the reporter and DBPD officer responsible for their body camera program:

  • Officers often cannot get to their radios in chaotic situations

  • Department needs the clearest picture of exactly what their officers are getting into

  • Radio transmissions are good, video is better, and live video is best

  • As soon as a camera is activated, supervisors can see what an officer is doing, monitor how the officer responds, watch how the officer interacts with the public, and how the situation unfolds

  • DBPD Supervisors love the capability to have "eyes on" a situation before they arrive

  • Live-streaming is not used to "spy" on officers but simply to "look in" on an officer when they are on a call or when they need help

I'm sure there will be many opinions on the necessity for live-streaming of BWC video. A case can certainly be made for its use in very critical and dynamic situations such as an Active Assailant incident. Using a live-streaming capability for everyday patrol operations requires a very thoughtful analysis by the employing agency. Internal "buy in" from officers and unions is critical. Safeguards must be in place supported by very strict policy guidelines as well as discipline for abuse. The agency must be watchful for supervisory over-reliance on the capability. Supervision through live-streaming is not a replacement for on scene supervision. Finally, I would suggest that there might be some unintended consequences lurking behind even the best of intended deployment of live-streaming cameras. Ultimately, it is up to individual agencies to determine if this capability is necessary, when it is necessary, and if it is practical.

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