Questions about how IUPD uses body-worn cameras?
Why did IU look into body-worn cameras?
Police at the IU campuses began using in-car cameras in the mid-1990s and had already been informally exploring the use of body worn cameras, or BWCs, before the tool became part of the national discussion about race and use of force after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in late 2014. Shortly after that incident, Mark Bruhn, associate vice president for public safety and institutional assurance, commissioned a more formal evaluation with a committee of experts convened for that purpose.
How was the review conducted?
The Body-Worn Camera Evaluation Committee thought it was important to gather feedback from stakeholders – students, faculty and staff, police officers and community stakeholders. They conducted surveys and focus groups and field tested body-worn cameras at IU Bloomington, IUPUI and IU Northwest in Gary, among other outreach efforts, to gather this feedback. These campuses were selected due to the size of their student and residential populations and/or location in major metropolitan areas with substantial racial and ethnic diversity on and off campus. The committee’s work involved the collection and evaluation of a wide range of information, such as hardware/software information, experiences at other police agencies and legal and policy research.
Who was on the Body-Worn Camera Evaluation Committee?
Committee members included students, police officers and Public Safety staff, attorneys with the IU General Counsel’s office, faculty with expertise in criminal justice and privacy, IU’s Chief Privacy Officer and IU’s Superintendent of Public Safety.
What did the committee recommend?
The committee recommended that the university implement body-worn 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 in order to adjust the policies and procedures applicable to the use of BWCs as appropriate.
The committee also noted that IUPD and police in general may take other important relationship-building steps even if body-worn cameras were not adopted. These additional steps may 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.
What are the benefits of police using body-worn cameras?
The committee determined that body-worn cameras may enhance transparency and accountability in policing. It also pointed to the possibility of improved safety for police and the public because the use of BWCs is perceived by some to deter the use of excessive force by police or violence by members of the public coming into contact with police.
The committee expects body-worn cameras to encourage greater civility, lawfulness and professionalism by all parties to police-public encounters; to reduce and swiftly resolve complaints against police; and to improve and enhance the gathering of evidence for investigations and prosecutions.
Will the new state law affect plans?
House Bill 1019, which was pending legislation when the committee began its work, was adopted into law (Public Law 58) in March 2016 and went into effect on July 1, 2016. This law establishes a procedure for the release and retention of law enforcement recordings under the Access to Public Records Act. These procedures have been factored into the IU committee's evaluation and cost estimates.
How much will it cost?
The committee estimated that it would cost less than $200 thousand to deploy BWCs on all of the campuses. The comprehensive cost (including anticipated equipment maintenance and replacement) of deploying them on just the core campuses is currently being determined.
Will all IUPD officers wear BWCs?
Deployment of BWCs will begin at the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses. Officers on these campuses make up almost 70 percent of IUPD's full-time sworn officers. Beginning with Bloomington and IUPUI, all full-time, sworn officers will wear BWCs when each campus begins implementation.
Why begin with IU Bloomington and IUPUI? Why not use them on all campuses?
Officers at IU Bloomington and IUPUI have the highest number of interactions with the public because the campuses have the largest student enrollment and correlating faculty and staff populations in the system.
There is little published research to date on early adopters’ experiences, so the university has decided against system-wide implementation until it has further data and experience with their use and effectiveness as well as with managing the video produced. Stakeholder research indicates that those who interact with the campus police feel that IUPD-community relations are healthy, and are not immediately demanding BWC implementation, although stakeholders generally recognize the potential benefits of adopting BWCs.
When will police begin using BWCs?
Prior to implementation, IUPD was required to issue a Request for Proposals for the purchase of the body-worn cameras, data storage and other necessary hardware and software. The RFP was issued in early August and several proposals were received. Officers will begin using BWCs once the equipment for their campus has been purchased and officers have received training on established guidelines for their use, such as when to turn them on and off. These guidelines are set forth in an IUPD general order that was finalized in July.
The use of BWCs is still relatively new nationwide. Some agencies in Indiana have begun using them only to stop. IU wants to make sure that the university is making a decision that is affordable and sustainable.
What type of interactions will police be recording?
With a few exceptions, officers will be expected to activate their BWCs to record all contacts with members of the public in the performance of official law enforcement duties. Body-worn cameras will not be activated in restrooms and locker rooms unless officers are in pursuit of an arrest or search. Body-worn cameras will be turned off during conversations with confidential informants. Officers may forego or discontinue recording in order to protect legitimate privacy interests, such as interviews with sexual assault victims, etc.
Officers will generally not record public gatherings, including protests, except when there are specific interactions between officers and members of the public at such gatherings or the officer concludes in his or her professional judgment that legitimate law enforcement purposes are best served by recording.
Will members of the public in general know when an officer is recording?
Yes, body-worn cameras are plainly visible on the officer’s and show a green light when in operation.
Will an individual subject of a BWC recording know that he or she is being recorded?
Yes. In addition to the indicators visible to any member of the public that an officer has deployed a BWC, IUPD’s general order indicates that officers should make individuals who are the specific subjects of a recording aware that they are being recorded unless it is impractical or unsafe to do so. The general order also states that when contacts between officers and individuals in a residence or vehicle are being recorded, the use of the body-worn cameras should generally be preceded by a verbal notice to the subjects of the recording.
When can a request not to be recorded be honored?
As stated above, IUPD expects that all contacts between its officers and members of the public will be recorded for the safety of both the subject and the police officer and to enhance transparency of policing efforts. However, officers may, in the exercise of their professional judgment, forego or discontinue recording in certain sensitive circumstances in order to protect legitimate privacy interests. Examples include, but are not limited to, interviews of victims of sexual assault, in-residence situations that would depict the images of minors in the home, and the like. Even in these circumstances, however, if the officer is conducting a search or arrest, or otherwise concludes that legitimate law enforcement purposes are best served by recording, the request must be denied.
Will recordings from BWCs be made available for viewing?
Yes, but who is authorized to access the recordings, under what circumstances, and the extent of the recording that may be viewed varies according to state law.
Anyone who wishes to view a dash cam or body camera recording must, under state law, make a request in writing that includes the date, approximate time, and specific location of the law enforcement activity recorded, as well as the name of at least one person other than a law enforcement officer who was directly involved in the law enforcement activity.
State law specifies different levels of access for “requestors” – defined as those who are the subject of recordings (or certain others who may act on their behalf), persons with a property interest in interior premises that are recorded, or those who suffered a crime or loss for which the recording is relevant – and members of the public.
Subject to obscuring of information identifying an undercover officer or a confidential informant, and certain other information that state or federal law already prohibits disclosing from any public record, requestors are allowed in almost all instances to view the recording at least twice. The recording may not be copied by the requestor during the review.
Members of the public, including the press, may view recordings unless, based on due consideration of the facts of the particular case, the University determines that access to or dissemination of the law enforcement recording:
- creates a significant risk of substantial harm to anyone or to the general public
- is likely to interfere with a fair trial
- may affect an ongoing investigation;
- would not serve the public interest.
Any recordings released to members of the public or press must have the following material obscured before release:
- Any images that provide information that is prohibited from disclosure under Ind. Code 5-14-3-14(a)
- depictions of death or dead bodies
- severe violence
- serious bodily injury
- individuals reasonably believed to be minors
- images that convey personal medical information
- crime victims or information identifying them
- individuals who report crimes or information identifying them, and
- witnesses or information identifying them.
The University may also obscure images identifying undercover officers and confidential informants, in recordings released to members of the public.
How long will video be stored?
State law requires video to be stored for 190 days. However, video will be retained longer if it is part of an investigation or court proceeding, subject to an open records request, or is being used for training.