What are officer body-worn cameras? Officer body-worn cameras (BWCs) are relatively small devices that record interactions between community members (e.g., the public, suspects, and victims) and law enforcement officers. The video and audio recordings from BWCs can be used by law enforcement to demonstrate transparency to their communities; to document statements, observations, behaviors, and other evidence; and to deter unprofessional, illegal, and inappropriate behaviors by both law enforcement and the public.
Why are officers wearing body-worn cameras? BWC technology has developed to the point where it is becoming a standard in law enforcement. Police departments nationwide are adopting the BWCs for their departments. Some of the proven benefits of wearing bodycams are:
- Greater transparency
- Promoting accountability
- Evidence collection
- Deterring criminal activity and uncooperative behavior
- Assisting officers with completing reports and providing testimony in court
Are all officers be required to wear these new body-worn cameras? All Officers whose assignments place them in contact with the public on a daily basis, such as Patrol, Community Policing and Traffic, in addition to all sergeants, are issued BWCs. Other Officers, depending on their assignment within the department, will also wear them.
What kind of cameras do officers in KCK wear? The KCK Police Department is outfitted with WATCHGUARD V300 cameras. These cameras, which measure approximately 2.5 x 3.5 inches, will be mounted on the center plane of the officer’s chest. Depending upon the height of an officer, the camera may be positioned higher or lower on the chest area.
Are police vehicles still equipped with dash cameras or do BWCs eliminate the need for them? How are body-worn cameras different from dashboard cameras? Police vehicles remain equipped with video surveillance equipment. Dashboard cameras are fixed to law enforcement vehicles; therefore, they only capture video from the front of the vehicle. Some dashboard cameras allow for audio recording near the law enforcement vehicle. Body-worn cameras allow video to be captured wherever the officer goes. The KCKPD video system utilizes body-worn, dashboard, panorama and prisoner compartment cameras in order to provide a variety of perspectives.
Are cameras always recording? There are two ways in which the system begins recording:
- Lights and sirens are activated – recording automatically starts.
- The officer manually starts to record from the BWC.
Once activated, the system starts recording and also captures audio and video of one minute leading up to activation.
How can I tell if the BWC is turned on? When the bodycam is on and recording, a red light bar will be illuminated in the center of the camera.
Do officers have the ability to turn off or pause their camera? Yes. An officer may stop recording from either the vehicle or from the unit itself only in specific situations. If recording is paused, the officer must first state the reason for pausing the recording before doing so. The following are situations where cameras can and should be turned off:
- To respect the dignity of others in places where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists, such as locker rooms, dressing rooms, or restrooms unless it is required to capture evidence for a criminal investigation.
- In hospitals or doctor’s office settings, recordings will be limited for investigative use only. Officers will not record a patient’s medical interaction and procedures with hospital or medical personnel unless all parties are aware that a recording is taking place and it is needed as evidence.
- Conversations with confidential informants and undercover officers unless authorized by a supervisor.
Can officers edit or manipulate video that has been recorded? No. All video captured is uploaded to an on-site server at the end of each shift. Officers may review, but have no ability to edit, modify or delete recordings.
Does an officer have to stop recording if I ask him/her to do so? No, if the officer is on an official investigation, he/she is not required to turn it off. If you want to have a general conversation, you may ask to have it turned off.
If I think I have been treated unfairly, can I review the video? Yes. Per KSA 45-254b, the following individuals may make a written request to listen to audio or view a recording from a body-worn or in-vehicle camera:
- Subject of recording
- Parent or legal guard of sub under 18
- Attorney for person described above
- Heir at law*, administrator of an estate for said individual
* Heir at law means:
(A) An executor or an administrator of the decedent;
(B) the spouse of the decedent, if living;
(C) if there is no living spouse of the decedent, an adult child of the decedent, if living; or
(D) if there is no living spouse or adult child of the decedent, a parent of the decedent, if living.
Once permission is granted, the KCKPD will make contact to schedule a time to view the footage at the KCKPD Internal Affairs Unit located on the 5th floor of City Hall, 701 N. 7th Street. Only the individual making the request will be allowed to view the footage and will do so accompanied by an Officer.
The Kansas Open Records Act applies to requests for body-worn or in-vehicle camera recordings. While you may be allowed to review the recording, release of the recording will be subject to KSA 45-221 and other exceptions. You may submit a request to view body worn camera footage via the NextRequest portal here.
Will members of the media be granted viewing or broadcast permission of video or audio recordings? Maybe. The Kansas Open Records Act applies to requests for body-worn or in-vehicle camera recordings, release of which will be subject to KSA 45-221 and other exceptions. If there is a compelling reason, such as an overall benefit to the safety or education of the public, media may be granted access at the discretion of the Chief of Police.
How long will KCKPD retain video recordings?
- Cases will be kept forever or until a court issues a destruction order
- Homicide, rape, aggravated criminal sodomy crimes will be kept forever or until a court issues a destruction order
- Other felony crimes - 5 years
- Misdemeanor crimes - 1 year
- Traffic stops & citations - 1 Year
- Vehicle pursuits - 5 years
- All other calls - 120 Days
- Test videos - 24 hours
What about my privacy? Courts have long held that an individual has no expectation of privacy in a public place. It is also true that if an Officer has a legal right to be somewhere, he/she can also capture video. This includes private property. Concern for your privacy is also why we will carefully guard the release of the captured video.
How much did this technology cost and how was it funded? The total overall budget for the project was $1,832,000. The project was financed through general funds from the Unified Government and a $342,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.