Tag Archives: body cameras

BODY-WORN VIDEO: ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Police and law enforcement oversight in the modern era is an increasingly complex and popular topic, with all signs pointing toward the widespread adoption of body-worn cameras for officers and other personnel who regularly make contact with the public. A recent poll shows that 76% of Millennials in the United States support mandatory body-worn cameras for police officers. Meanwhile, this technology continues to gain popularity throughout the public sector, including administrators at a school district in Virginia who are set to begin recording interactions with students.

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Photo courtesy of Reuters/Al Seib/Pool

The benefits of body-worn video include more plea deals and less court time, a reduction in citizen complaints and allegations of misconduct, and increased accountability for both officers and subjects of investigations. However, there are many challenges inherent in adopting new technologies, such as financial concerns surrounding purchasing agreements with vendors, as well as costs associated with data storage and equipment maintenance. Despite the popularity of these programs nationwide, many citizens also have concerns about the implementation of policies and procedures regarding when and how recordings are captured, and the degree of control officers have over these devices.

Another major consideration for agencies utilizing body-worn cameras is the question of access to recordings; in other words, who gets to see the footage, and when? Some city and state governments have made these recordings public almost immediately, while others have exempted body-camera footage from public records requests. Several states have begun passing laws regulating the release of body camera videos, although many officials question whether legislation on such matters is even necessary, citing the desire of different agencies to forge their own policies and guidelines to meet their individual needs. Ultimately, decisions on when and how to release these videos will have to balance the need to comply with public records requests while simultaneously protecting sensitive information, such as the identities of adult and child victims, witnesses, and other parties present during police contact.

Agencies looking to solve problems related to data storage and the release of videos can turn to transcription as a viable solution. Net Transcripts is the leading provider of confidential transcription and translation services to law enforcement and criminal justice agencies throughout the nation. Our professional typists will accurately transcribe body-worn video recordings, producing valuable evidence which can be easily redacted to protect sensitive information while satisfying the need for disclosure. We can also translate any foreign languages spoken in a recording, providing valuable context to the events captured by a body-worn camera or other recording device. Please contact a representative for more information regarding the quality, security, and user-friendliness of the services provided by Net Transcripts.

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Recent Officer-Involved Shootings Urge Acceptance of Body Cameras

An officer's body-worn camera records a traffic stop. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Jim Mone)

An officer’s body-worn camera records a traffic stop. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Within a day of the fatal shooting of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old man shot in the back while fleeing Officer Michael Slager, the North Charleston mayor vowed body cameras for the city’s entire police force.

Video evidence captured by a bystander shows Slager dropping his stun gun and firing eight shots at the fleeing man, who had just stood up from a tussle on the ground. Slager had initially stated that he feared for his life and shot in self-defense after Scott attempted to take his weapon, but the video tells a different, more irrefutable story – one that would have been lost without a camera present.

It isn’t the first time officials have pushed for body cameras to capture officer’s interactions in the wake of a controversial officer-involved shooting. The August 2014 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO incited protests and violent riots nationwide, and pulled law enforcement under the spotlight of intense scrutiny. Officer Wilson claimed he shot in self-defense after a struggle over his weapon, but in the absence of video evidence to support him, investigations were drawn out as witnesses offered different and conflicting accounts of what had transpired.

Ferguson Police Department officers appeared on the streets wearing cameras within a month of the controversial shooting. Prominent body-worn camera creator VIEVU said sales for the technology increased 70% in the aftermath of Ferguson, as departments rushed to reduce the risk of a similar controversy.

State law enforcement in South Carolina will receive 50 body cameras for testing over the next two weeks. While Governor Nikki Haley maintains that issuing the cameras is unrelated to the Walter Scott shooting in North Charleston, SC, the Department of Protective Services assures citizens that they are providing the latest body-worn video technology, training and evidence management to officers “in light of recent high-profile incidents.”

The White House has also shown its support for body cameras with a funding project for $263 million toward purchasing over 50,000 of the devices for police departments nationwide.

Body-worn video cameras help keep officers accountable for their actions, but also exonerates them in incidents where citizens make false accusations.

For departments currently utilizing body-worn cameras or agencies who have just adopted the technology after recent news, Net Transcripts offers transcription of video captured from nearly any device. Receiving transcripts of video can accelerate investigations and aid in evidence management. Contact us to learn more about transcription of body-worn video.

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