Due to the wake of publicized police shootings and individuals dying in
custody, law enforcement agencies throughout the United States are now
equipping their officers with police body cameras. Texas Occupations Code
§ 1701.655 sets forth requirements for body worn camera policies
for police departments implementing a body worn camera program.
The policy must include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Guidelines determining when a police officer should activate a camera or
discontinue a recording based on privacy under specific circumstances.
- Data-retention provisions, such as provisions mandating the retention of
video for a minimum 90-day period.
- Provisions regarding storage of video and audio, the creation of backup
copies, and data security maintenance.
- Guidelines for public access via open records requests.
Similar to video recordings taken from cameras mounted on a police cruiser’s
dashboard, footage from body-worn cameras offers an objective look at
interactions between officers and ordinary citizens. Although such footage
may clarity an officer’s account of the alleged criminal offense,
it is commonly now being used by criminal defense attorneys to protect
the rights of their clients.
The following are the benefits of policy body camera footage:
- Having video footage of every police encounter makes an officer accountable
for every action, which protects citizens against excessive use of force.
Since police reports will be verified through video footage, law enforcement
officials must adhere to strict protocol.
- Police body camera footage may help provide valuable evidence in obtaining
accurate law enforcement, witness, and victim statements. Sometimes such
testimony doesn’t always appear on camera, especially during high-stress
- Such footage may help speed up court proceedings by providing indisputable
proof of situations, resulting in the reduction of court expenses due
to an increase in pre-trial bargains or early case dismissals.
Body camera footage can be an extremely valuable tool in preparing a criminal
defense. It is not uncommon for a police officer’s recollection
of a stop—or even a report he wrote hours after—to substantially
differ from the body camera footage. Additionally, such footage allows
the judge and/or jury to observe the aggressive and combative attitudes
and behaviors that law enforcement officers first hand.
For more information,
College Station criminal defense lawyer at the
Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. today.