Body-Worn Camera Recommendation Report
Submitted March 14, 2016
Public Safety and Institutional Assurance (PSIA), specifically University Public Safety, within the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, is responsible for evaluating all practical options for maximizing the safety of Indiana University’s campuses and its officers. As part of this responsibility, the use of officer-worn body cameras has been informally researched for the last couple of years. Following the controversial shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and President Obama’s subsequent endorsement and funding support for the use of body cameras for law enforcement officers, IU Associate Vice President Mark Bruhn commissioned a committee to more formally examine the use of body-worn cameras (BWC) at IU. He established the BWC Evaluation Committee to perform a formal assessment of the use of these devices and to engage faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders in that effort. The Committee was asked to determine “whether or not the deployment of BWCs on IU police officers will positively affect the overall safety of individuals on our campuses such that the overall safety improvements overshadow the sum of possible loss of personal privacy by civilians and officers, the possible disclosure of sensitive operational techniques, and the associated overall cost of deployment given limited resources.” The Committee’s charge specified the following deliverables:
- A recommendation on whether implementation of BWCs should be started at IU
- A summary of research including issues and associated mitigation plan, benefits, and costs
- Given a positive recommendation, a proposal for next steps including recommendation on implementation strategy and timeline, along with suggestions for type of hardware/software
- A draft policy governing BWC for IUPD officers
Following is a high level summary of the Committee’s recommendation and findings:
The Committee’s overall recommendation is for the University to implement body cameras as funds become available, and as part of that implementation, continue to monitor relevant legal, policy and operational developments and the experiences of other police agencies, to adjust the policies and procedures applicable to body camera use as needed with respect to certain important issues in which there are divergent approaches.
Additionally, the Committee also notes there are other important relationship-building steps that IUPD (and police generally) may take without cameras to enhance trust and accountability and address what stakeholders regularly identified as the core concerns underlying the present tension in police-public interactions, especially with communities of color and low-income communities. Whatever the decision with respect to adopting body cameras, the Committee fully endorses the pursuit of these relationship-building activities.
Summary of Research
The BWC Evaluation Committee conducted a wide range of research on this topic over the last 15 months (Note: the report was submitted in March 2016). Following is a summary of the research conducted:
- Gathered, reviewed, and discussed a substantial amount of data from a wide variety of sources
- Reviewed available data on use of force events on IU campuses and complaints against IU police, to get a sense of the nature and frequency of such events for which having BWC recordings may be useful
- Obtained detailed information from vendors on the costs and functionality of camera models and associated cloud-based storage and administrative software
- Consulted with numerous other police agencies inside and outside Indiana, about their experiences with BWCs
- Reviewed as much relevant third party material as we could find including two major reports commissioned by DOJ (the “PERF Report” and the “White Report”) and many other materials that were later gathered under DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera Toolkit; statements from the ACLU and other advocacy organizations, model laws from the ACLU and the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and BWC policies by adopting agencies including major metropolitan areas and several university policies and policies of metropolitan police in cities with IU campuses
- Conducted research into applicable laws, including a very recent draft amendment to the Indiana open records law, and relevant University policies
- Secured equipment/software from two major vendors (Taser and Vievu), and conducted BWC field tests in Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Gary. This required the development of a field test protocol
- Extensively researched the costs associated with different camera options.
- Administered a survey to all full-time and part-time faculty and staff on the Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Gary campuses
- Conducted focus groups on the Bloomington, Indianapolis and Gary campuses with students, police (those field testing BWCs and those who did not), and community stakeholders
- Engaged in a number of conversations with stakeholders on campus and in the surrounding communities; the input they provided is incorporated into the Committee’s analysis and recommendations
Benefits, Risks, Outstanding Challenges
- enhance transparency and accountability in policing and thereby rebuild trust in police-public relations, although this is dependent on how BWC videos will be accessed and used. Pending legislation will also help to clarify individuals’ rights to access BWC videos
- encourage greater civility, lawfulness, and professionalism by all parties to police-public encounters, when they know they are being recorded
- reduce and swiftly resolve complaints (including meritless complaints) against police.
- offer valuable material for officer training
- improve and enhance gathering evidence of crimes for investigations and prosecutions
- improve safety for police and the public - the use of BWCs is perceived by some to deter the use of excessive force by the police or violence by members of the public coming into contact with police.
- Cost of program is not fully known -- pricing structures for hardware and software are constantly evolving. New product and pricing planned for fall of 2016. Additionally, Indiana legislation may dictate practices that will have a direct impact on costs (Note: the report was submitted in March 2016)
- Potential for increased liability -- it is possible that the University would be exposed to greater risk of liability if a BWC recording offers evidence that did not otherwise exist, or that is more conclusive than other evidence (e.g. testimony) of an IUPD officer behaving unlawfully. This increased risk must be openly acknowledged and accepted prior to implementation of a BWC program
- Costs of responding to inevitable failures of technology and human error in making and administering the recordings (cameras don’t record, officer forgets to turn it on or battery runs out, possible systems security breaches), including potential legal and public relations risk
- Costs involved in managing stakeholder expectations. Public and justice systems may expect that BWCs will capture everything and may become disgruntled with the realization of the inherent limitations of the technology
Reasons for a planned approach:
- Stakeholder research indicates that those who interact with the campus police force feel IUPD-community relations are healthy. There appears to be little indication that cameras are being immediately demanded by our constituents
- A number of agencies, including several major metropolitan agencies in Indiana, have not yet adopted cameras, due in significant part to concerns that the substantial implementation costs will exceed the benefits of adoption and divert resources from other valuable initiatives to enhance trust in policing (concerns that were echoed in some stakeholder comments)
- Hard data and rigorous research on the perceived benefits are still limited and developing
- Consensus has not emerged among early adopters on a number of key implementation issues (see list below)
- The law in Indiana regarding access to body camera recordings is in flux. The Indiana legislature is presently considering a bill that would set out rules for retention of and public access to footage that would, if passed as is, apply to Indiana University. It therefore seems prudent to assume that the outcome of this legislation would be incorporated into decision making on policies and procedures adopted at IU with respect to body cameras
- The acknowledgement that while implementing body cameras can help to convey a commitment to transparency, accountability and professionalism, disputes over key aspects of implementation – like whether to record in sensitive circumstances, who may view and use the footage and for what purposes, appropriate institutional responses to problems revealed by the footage, and so on – can as readily help to undermine any benefit to trust building
- The technology and pricing structures for BWCs and associated software and services are rapidly developing and vendors have indicated that they are in a new product cycle and will be developing new offerings in preparation for the October 2016 IACP conference. Therefore, pricing and other cost figures in this report should be used as reference information and not considered current pricing
Key Outstanding Implementation Challenges:
- Should cameras be recording throughout the duration of the officer’s shift?
- The committee agrees that video should only be initiated for police-public interactions and agrees continuous recording is not practical or desirable.
- Should videos be accessible and viewed prior to writing a police incident report?
- The committee agrees that police officers should be allowed to use recordings as additional pieces of evidence while writing reports.
- Should IU have a pool of sharable cameras or one camera per officer? Which officers should have cameras?
- The committee agrees that having one camera per officer (plus some extras on hand to deal with breakage or larger events) is the best approach but considered whether or not having a pool of cameras could suffice as a starting point if necessary. The committee deferred to the administration as to which officers and campuses must have cameras in a phased rollout.
- There are several privacy and liability concerns that need to be addressed and implemented in policy.
- When and whether to record – Some agencies’ policies encourage or direct officers to turn the cameras off in order to respect personal privacy, protect access to confidential informants, or preserve the public’s ability to engage in casual conversation with officers, if they judge that a recording is not otherwise needed for law enforcement purposes. A majority of committee members felt that officers should record police-public interactions from start to finish as a default but should be permitted to turn the camera off in their professional judgment in order to protect significant privacy or confidentiality interests or when the contact is just a casual conversation, and no countervailing law enforcement need exists for recording. This should be reflected within the IUPD policy.
- Free speech concerns – Should public gatherings, including protests, be recorded or only specific police-public interactions within such a gathering. The committee feels that recording in such situations should be limited to only specific police-public interactions within such a gathering. This too should be established in policy.
- Notification - Individual notification is not required by law when recording in public or in private settings in which police presence is otherwise lawful. Providing notice can add however to a sense of transparency and help built trust and respect for police among individuals who are concerned about their privacy. A majority of Committee members felt that a workable balance could be struck and that officers should be encouraged to give notice to individuals being recorded inside a residence or other setting where those recorded have a reasonable expectation of privacy, unless the officer is conducting a lawful investigation, search, or arrest; responding to an emergency; or, in the officer’s discretion, it is impractical to do so or would be more likely to escalate a situation or otherwise hamper law enforcement objectives.
- Retention – From both a legal and privacy perspective, as well as an administrative cost perspective, the length of time videos are retained is important. Currently Indiana law does not prescribe a retention period applicable to IUPD; models reviewed by the committee varied. House Bill 1019 is currently under review and if passed would dictate retention periods.
- Access to recordings - Access to recordings (other than in civil and criminal proceedings pursuant to lawful discovery demands, which is presumed) will be shaped significantly by the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (APRA). With respect to public and news media access, under the current version of APRA most body camera footage likely would constitute “investigatory records,” defined by the APRA as “information compiled in the course of the investigation of a crime.” This is particularly so if body cameras are used solely to record in response to service calls and other police-public contacts that the officers reasonably believe may escalate into conflict or otherwise present circumstances for which recording would be useful; and this approach accords with how dash cam footage is currently treated under the APRA. The APRA currently allows the University to disclose or withhold investigatory records at its discretion. House Bill 1019, if adopted, will change these provisions and will establish a new set of criteria for both BWC and Dashcam recordings.
Committee members reviewed numerous policies, model laws, published research, and white papers over the course of the last 15 months. These included two major reports commissioned by DOJ (the “PERF Report” and the “White Report”), DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera Toolkit, model laws from the ACLU and the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and BWC policies by adopting agencies including major metropolitan areas and several university policies and policies of metropolitan police in cities with IU campuses. A draft policy has been developed to be used as a starting point for the implementation committee. All key outstanding concerns listed above should be reviewed with the BWC advisory committee and finalized in the next version of this policy.
- Seek funding and plan implementation based on level of approved funding
- Draft appropriate IUPD General Order(s), IUPD policy and procedures, and work with IU to revise related IU policies as needed
- Establish uniform standards and procedures pertaining to Use of Force incidents, including:
- Completing standard reporting forms on all campuses for Use of Force incidents and complaints against IUPD, and logging such information into a central database;
- Implementing a consistent After Action Review (AAR) process on all campuses following all use of force incidents;
- Establishing a formal communication plan regarding such incidents and complaints
- Ensure, in accordance with the Field Test Protocol, that all footage obtained during field trials that is needed for ongoing investigations or cases is preserved and all other footage is destroyed
The BWC Committee should:
- Continue to serve in an advisory committee capacity to provide input and feedback on implementation issues, final policies and procedures, and police-community activities such as educational forums that can enhance the already strong foundation of trust and accountability characterizing campus policing. Such forums should be focused on enhancing transparency and trust.
- Be expanded to include representatives from State Relations and Communications
- Consult regularly with external groups like the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) that are closely involved in BWC issues within the state
- Stay engaged with stakeholders and incorporate their input into the Committee’s advisory activities
- Work with IUPD to prepare for RFP and to advise as needed during the RFP process
Final committee membership including administrative sponsors
Jerry Minger, Indiana University Superintendent of Public Safety (Administrative Sponsor)
Sara Chambers, Chief Privacy Officer and Director, University Information Policy Office (Administrative Sponsor)
Chief Patricia Nowak, IUPD-NW Police Chief, Co-Chair
Beth Cate, Clinical Associate Professor of Law and Public Affairs, SPEA IUB, Co-Chair
Anahit Behjou, PSIA Compliance Specialist (through Sept. 30, 2015)
Robert Botts, Officer IUPD-IN
Sharon Chandler, IUB Student Representative (through April 30, 2015)
Kip Drew, Senior Associate General Counsel, IU Office of General Counsel
Dr. Crystal Garcia, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Law and Public Safety, IUPUI
Martin Gersey, IUSB Police Chief* (through Sept. 30, 2015)
Anthony Greco, President of Graduate and Professional Student government at IUPUI
Ryan Keller, Officer IUPD-IN
Eric Mayo, Sergeant and Public Safety Technical Services Supervisor, IUPD-BL
W. Craig Munroe, Lieutenant IUPD-BL
James Nussbaum, Assistant General Counsel, IU Office of General Counsel
Earl Singleton, J.D., Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Community Legal Clinic, Maurer School of Law
Dr. Monica Solinas-Saunders, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, SPEA IUN
Garth VanLeeuwen, Officer IUPD-BL
James Vastag, Sergeant IUPD-IN