Department Policies | 20-400-20-0 Body Worn Cameras/Portable Audio/Video Recorders
Subject: Body Worn Cameras/Portable Audio/Video Recorders
Effective Date: 9-29-21
Approved By: Sheriff Kevin Bygd
PURPOSE AND SCOPE
This policy provides guidelines for the use of body worn cameras/portable audio/video recording devices by members of this office while in the performance of their duties. Portable audio/video recording devices include all recording systems, whether body-worn, hand-held, or integrated into portable equipment (Wis. Stat. § 165.87).
This policy does not apply to mobile audio/video recordings (see policy 400-18) or interception of communications for authorized investigative purposes.
The Dunn County Sheriff's Office will provide designated members with access to portable audio/video recording devices, including Body Worn Cameras (BWC) for use during the performance of their duties. In this policy, "BWC" refers to the particular BWC model provided for personnel. The use of recording devices, including BWC's, is intended to enhance the mission of the Office by accurately capturing contacts between members of the Office and the public.
MEMBER PRIVACY EXPECTATION
All recordings made by members on any issued device at any time, and any recording made while acting in an official capacity of this office regardless of ownership of the device it was made on, shall remain the property of the Office. Members shall have no expectation of privacy or ownership interest in the content of these recordings.
MEMBER RESPONSIBILITIES BWC
Equipment is issued primarily to uniformed personnel as authorized by this agency. Officers who are assigned BWC equipment must use the equipment unless otherwise authorized by supervisory personnel.
Personnel shall use only BWC's issued by this Office. The BWC equipment and all data, images, video, and metadata captured, recorded, or otherwise produced by the equipment is the sole property of the agency.
Prior to going into service, each member will be responsible for making sure that he/ she is equipped with a BWC issued by the agency, and that the BWC is in good working order. For non-uniformed personnel that are assigned a BWC that means it is readily accessible and in good working order. If the BWC is not in working order or the member becomes aware of a malfunction at any time, the member shall promptly report the failure to his/her supervisor and obtain a functioning device as soon as reasonably practicable.
Any member assigned to a non-uniformed position may carry a BWC or approved portable recorder at any time the member believes that such a device may be useful.
Officers shall not edit, alter, erase, duplicate, copy, share, or otherwise distribute in any manner BWC recordings without prior written authorization and approval from the Sheriff or Chief Deputy, with the exception of copying recordings for official use.
Officers are encouraged to inform their supervisor of any recordings that may be of value for training purposes.
Requests for deletion of portions of the recordings (e.g., in the event of a personal recording) must be submitted in writing and approved by the Sheriff or Chief Deputy in accordance with state record retention laws.
When using the BWC and related software, the user's unique identification and the date/time of each recording will be automatically recorded.
Members should document the existence of a recording in any report or other official record of the contact, including any instance where the recorder malfunctioned or the member deactivated the recording. Members should include the reason for deactivation. BWC recordings are not a replacement for written reports.
ACTIVATION OF THE AUDIO/VIDEO RECORDER
This policy is not intended to describe every possible situation in which the BWC should be used, although there are many situations where its use is appropriate. Members should activate the recorder any time the member believes it would be appropriate or valuable to record an incident.
The BWC shall be activated in any of the following situations:
(a) All enforcement and investigative contacts including stops and field interview (FI) situations
(b) Traffic stops including, but not limited to, traffic violations, stranded motorist assistance and all crime interdiction stops
(c) Self-initiated activity in which a member would normally notify the Dispatch Center
(d) Any other contact that becomes adversarial after the initial contact in a situation that would not otherwise require recording
At no time is a member expected to jeopardize his/her safety in order to activate a BWC or change the recording media. However, the BWC should be activated in situations described above as soon as reasonably practicable.
SURREPTITIOUS USE OF THE PORTABLE RECORDER
Wisconsin law permits an individual to surreptitiously record any conversation in which one party to the conversation has given his/her permission (Wis. Stat. § 968.31(2)(b)).
Members may surreptitiously record any conversation during the course of an investigation in which the member reasonably believes that such a recording will be lawful and beneficial to the investigation.
Members shall not surreptitiously record another agency member without a court order unless lawfully authorized by the Sheriff or the authorized designee.
CESSATION OF RECORDING
Except as provided below, once BWC are initiated, the recordings should continue without interruption until the contact ends.
Requests by members of the public to stop recording should be considered using this same criterion. Recording should resume when privacy is no longer at issue unless the circumstances no longer fit the criteria for recording.
BWCs, once activated, shall remain on continuously until the member’s direct participation in the incident is complete or the situation no longer fits the criteria for activation. Recording may be stopped during significant periods of inactivity within a call/incident.
The following are examples:
(a) Report writing.
(b) While in a medical facility, waiting for a person in custody to be medically cleared; however, the BWC should be re-activated if/when the need for contact with the person again arises.
(c) Other extended breaks from direct participation in the incident or contact with involved person(s).
Other instances where an officer may cease a recording or mute the audio:
(a) While conferring with other officers/supervisors regarding strategies or tactics of a call. In normal circumstances it would be preferred that the BWC just be muted.
(b) Where an informant or citizen requests the recording device be turned off before providing information.
When a BWC recording is stopped prior to completion of the incident, the officer shall document in their report the reason for the cessation of the BWC recording. It is highly encouraged that the officer state on video the reason for ceasing the recording.
Deputies assigned to the Eau Claire Regional Swat Team, the Eau Claire Regional Special Events Team or the West Central Drug Task Force (WCDTF) are exempt from this policy when they are working incidents related to those assignments. They shall follow the policy of the team at that time. Members assigned to WCDTF may use a BWC when practical but should be cautions of using it at times that may depict undercover officers, informants or undercover equipment.
Many portable recorders, including BWC's and audio/video transmitters, emit radio waves that could trigger an explosive device. Therefore, these devices should not be used where an explosive device may be present.
PROHIBITED USE OF PORTABLE RECORDERS or BWC
Members are prohibited from using agency-issued BWC or recording device for personal use and are prohibited from making personal copies of recordings created while on-duty or while acting in their official capacity.
Members are also prohibited from retaining recordings of activities or information obtained while on-duty, whether the recording was created with agency-issued or personally owned recorders. Members shall not duplicate or distribute such recordings, except for authorized legitimate office business purposes. All such recordings shall be retained at the agency.
Members are prohibited from using personally owned recording devices while on-duty without the express consent of the Shift Sergeant. Any member who uses a personally owned recorder for office-related activities shall comply with the provisions of this policy, including retention and release requirements, and should notify the on-duty supervisor of such use as soon as reasonably practicable.
Recordings shall not be used by any member for the purpose of embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.
IDENTIFICATION AND PRESERVATION OF RECORDINGS
To assist with identifying and preserving data and recordings, members should categorize each recording with an event tag and a case number. Once this is done the system will auto purge videos based on the retention period assigned to each event tag.
A member should transfer, tag or mark recordings when the member reasonably believes:
(a) The recording contains evidence relevant to potential criminal, civil or administrative matters.
(b) A complainant, victim or witness has requested non-disclosure.
(c) A complainant, victim or witness has not requested non-disclosure but the disclosure of the recording may endanger the person.
(d) Disclosure may be an unreasonable violation of someone’s privacy.
(e) Medical or mental health information is contained.
(f) Disclosure may compromise an undercover officer or confidential informant.
(g) The recording or portions of the recording may be protected under the Public Records Law (Wis. Stat. § 19.31 et seq.).
Any time a member reasonably believes a recorded contact may be beneficial in a non-criminal matter (e.g., a hostile contact), the member should promptly notify a supervisor of the existence of the recording.
REVIEW OF RECORDINGS/RECORDED MEDIA FILES
When preparing written reports, members should review their recordings as a resource. However, members shall not retain personal copies of recordings. Members should not use the fact that a recording was made as a reason to write a less detailed report.
Recorded files may also be reviewed in the following circumstances:
(a) Upon approval by a supervisor, by any member of the agency who is participating in an official investigation, such as a personnel complaint, administrative investigation, or criminal investigation.
(b) By Field Training Officers in review of personnel being trained under the Office's Field Training Program.
(c) Pursuant to lawful process or by court personnel who are otherwise authorized to review evidence in a related case.
(d) By media personnel with permission of the Sheriff or the authorized designee.
(e) In compliance with a public records request, if permitted, and in accordance with the Records Maintenance and Release Policy.
All recordings should be reviewed by the Custodian of Records prior to public release (see the Records Maintenance and Release Policy). Recordings that unreasonably violate a person’s privacy or sense of dignity should not be publicly released unless disclosure is required by law or order of the court (Wis. Stat. § 165.87(3)).
It is not the intent of the Sheriff's Office to obtain a recording or review recordings for the purpose of general performance review, for routine preparation of performance reports or evaluation, or to discover policy violations. The scope of supervisory review of recordings should be limited to reports of meritorious conduct or reported specific complaints of misconduct. Inadvertent discovery of other allegations during this review shall require the supervisor to articulate the purpose of expanding the scope.
The Sheriff or the authorized designee should designate a coordinator responsible for (Wis. Stat. § 165.87):
(a) Establishing procedures for the security, storage, and maintenance of data and recordings.
(b) Establishing procedures for accessing data and recordings.
(c) Establishing procedures for logging or auditing access.
(d) Establishing procedures for transferring, downloading, tagging, or marking events.
(e) Provide training on this policy to:
1. Members of the agency who use, maintain, store, or are responsible for the release of records and recordings.
2. Officers who are authorized to use portable audio/video recorders.
(f) Periodically reviewing the Office's practices related to the use, maintenance, and storage of body cameras and data to confirm compliance with this policy.
(g) Ensuring this policy is available to the public on the agency's website.
SECURE STORAGE OF RECORDINGS
Recordings are ultimately stored on the Evidence Library 5 (EL5) secure server digital evidence management platform as supported by Watch Guard (Utility, Inc.). EL5 requires specific and unique user access credentials. A log is created by EL5 when recordings are viewed or otherwise accessed.
All files shall be securely downloaded regularly.
RETENTION OF RECORDINGS
All recordings shall be retained for a period consistent with the requirements of the established records retention schedule but in no event for a period less than 120 days (Wis. Stat. § 165.87).
RELEASE OF AUDIO/VIDEO RECORDINGS Requests for the release of audio/video recordings shall be processed in accordance with the Records Release Policy.
EXCEPTIONS TO RETENTION REQUIREMENTS FOR BODY-WORN CAMERAS
Exceptions to the 120-day retention period for body-worn cameras are as follows (Wis. Stat. § 165.87):
(a) Recordings should be retained until the final disposition of any investigation, case, or complaint to which the recordings pertain to any of the following:
Death or actual or alleged physical injury to any person in the recording
An encounter resulting in custodial arrest
A search during a temporary detention pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 968.25
An encounter resulting in the use of force except when the only use of force involves the use of a firearm to euthanize an injured wild animal
(b) Recordings used in any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding may not be destroyed except upon a final disposition from the court or hearing officer after a determination the recordings are no longer needed, or by an order from the court or hearing officer.
(c) Recordings may be retained for a period beyond 120 days if a request or directive to preserve the recordings is made before the expiration of that time period by a sworn officer from this office or another law enforcement agency, prosecutor, defendant, or a court.
Training All officers shall complete the on-line training offered by Watch Guard on the BWC or department training as required by state Statue. 165.87 (1)(c)
Redaction-- Will be completed by the records custodian or designee. Redaction should be done via pixelization or another redaction method. WI SS 165.87(3)
Required redaction prior to release
1. Victims of sensitive or violent crimes
a. Victims face or anything that would allow the victim to be identified
2. Minor children
3. Persons who are in areas where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy
4. CJIS Data is recorded on the body camera to include (paper or computer generated criminal history, NCIC returns or other prohibited CJIS data
5. Door or entry codes that could compromise security
6. Any recording where the content that the Sheriff or their designee deem to be too sensitive to release.
Public viewing of policy As required by WI State Statue 165.87 (1)(e) If a law enforcement agency maintains an Internet site or has an Internet site maintained on its behalf, make the policy available to the public at the Internet site.
a. This policy shall be posted on the Dunn County Sheriff's Office website
b This policy shall be posted on the Dunn County government website
Wis. Stat. § 968.31(2)(b)
Wis. Stat. § 19.31 et seq.
(Wis. Stat. § 165.87
Wis. Stat. § 165.87(3)
Wis. Stat. § 968.25