Report looks at use of lapel cameras

Updated: 08/15/2014 10:20 PM | Created: 08/15/2014 8:50 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

ALBUQUERQUE -- A report from the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs assesses evidence and studies on the use of lapel cameras. The Albuquerque Police Department says they've read the report, but haven't studied it thoroughly enough to comment on it yet.

Community groups like the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) say APD's lapel camera policy is a start, but isn't perfect.

"The lapel cameras aren't going be useful unless they're actually used. We need to have policies in place that even disciplinary measures, so when an officer isn't using the technology appropriately, he is disciplined for it," ACLU-NM Policy Director Steve Allen said.

A new report says body-worn cameras are so new that no agency seems to be using them perfectly yet. The report combines findings from studies about cameras, drawing a few conclusions.

One conclusion the evidence seems to show is that officers are much more likely to record encounters if their agency enforces a strong disciplinary policy. Also, the report says cameras seem to reduce the number of citizen complaints and use-of-force incidents.

Finally, recordings from certain types of scenes can make people relive trauma.

"You can imagine - like a domestic violence situation or a scene where young witnesses are being interviewed - I think we have to be sensitive to that, and that should be incorporated into the policy somehow," Allen said.

The report says more research is necessary, but does include some recommendations, including citizen surveys about how cameras should be used and having a third-party group review the department's policy.

The report also details major restrictions to the use of cameras in other states. In Seattle, a judge ruled that cameras violate state recording laws. In other states, community activists argue the cameras infringe on citizen privacy. 

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