This guide is designed to assist the instructor in developing an appropriate lesson plan or plans to teach the course learning objectives. The learning objectives are the minimum required content of the Body Worn Camera course. This course is required before a law enforcement agency can implement a body worn camera program.
Note to Trainers: it is the responsibility of the coordinator to ensure this curriculum and its materials are kept up to date. Refer to curriculum and legal resources for changes in subject matter or laws relating to this topic as well as the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement website at www.tcole.texas.gov for edits due to course review.
Target Population: Peace Officers who will wear body worn cameras and any other personnel who will come into contact with video and audio data obtained from the use of body worn cameras. Such persons could include: Jailers, Telecommunicators, Clerks, Records Retention, etc.
Student Pre-Requisites: None
Instructor Pre-Requisites: Subject Matter Expert
Length of Course: 2 hours
Methods of Instruction:
- Group Discussion
- Equipment Demonstration
Assessment: Assessment is required for completion of this course to ensure the student has a thorough comprehension of all learning objectives. Training providers are responsible for assessing and documenting student mastery of all objectives in this course.
In addition, the Commission highly recommends a variety of testing/assessment opportunities throughout the course which could include: oral or written testing, interaction with instructor and students, case study and scenario, and other means of testing students’ application of the skills as the instructor or department deems appropriate.
- Senate Bill 158
- Government Code 552
- Occupations Code 1701
Course Goals and Objectives
Course Title: Body Worn Cameras
1.0 Unit Goal: A law enforcement agency that operates a body worn camera program shall adopt a policy for use of body worn cameras. Body worn cameras are activated only for a law enforcement purpose, and the policy must include guidelines for these purposes.
Pre-Instructional Strategy: Have students introduce selves to include:
- Years in Law Enforcement
- Experience with Body Worn Cameras
- Knowledge, to include other courses, in the use of Body Worn Cameras
- The student will be able to discuss when a camera should be activated due to privacy and departmental situations.
Definitions to know:
- Body Worn Camera (BWC) – a recording device that is capable of recording, or transmitting to be recorded remotely, video or audio, and is worn on the person of a peace officer, which includes being attached to the officer’s clothing or worn as glasses.
- Private Space – a location in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, including a person’s home
When to activate the Body Worn Camera:
- Activate according to departmental policy.
- Policy CANNOT require officers to keep a BWC activated for an entire shift.
- When non-enforcement contacts with the public become confrontational, assaultive, or enforcement-oriented.
- When the officer feels the use of the BWC is appropriate and beneficial in documenting an incident.
- All enforcement encounters where there is at least reasonable suspicion the person(s) has committed, is committing, or may be involved in criminal activity.
- Vehicle stops
- Pedestrian stops
- Consensual encounters
- Taking or attempting to take a person into custody
- Any incident involving use of force
- Service of search or arrest warrants
- Suspect statements
- Witness / Victim statements (when practical)
- Response to complaints or calls for service
It should be noted that there may be instances where it is neither practical nor possible for the officer to activate the BWC. The safety of the officer and of the public is the foremost priority; the BWC should not be activated if it is an impediment of safety. It should also be noted that an officer should not activate or deactivate the BWC based solely upon the request or demand of a citizen; but rather rely on training, experience and policy to determine the necessity of activation.
Sec. 16.02. UNLAWFUL INTERCEPTION, USE, OR DISCLOSURE OF WIRE, ORAL, OR ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS. (SINGLE PARTY NOTIFICATION)
(3) a person acting under color of law intercepts:
(A) a wire, oral, or electronic communication, if the person is a party to the communication or if one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception;
(B) a wire, oral, or electronic communication, if the person is acting under the authority of Article 18.20, Code of Criminal Procedure; (Art. 18.20. DETECTION, INTERCEPTION, AND USE OF WIRE, ORAL, OR ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS)
- The student will be able to discuss between when a recording should be discontinued due to privacy and departmental situations.
When to deactivate BWC:
- Follow departmental policy.
- Should not deactivate until encounter has concluded except for tactical or saftety reasons, or if the encounter no longer holds investigative or evidenciary value.
- If deactivated prior to conclusion of encounter, document the reason. PRIOR to deactivation on camera as well as in report.
- If no report made, document on citation or in officer daily report.
- Use reasonable judgment.
- Reactivation may be necessary depending on circumstances.
- The student will be able to discuss what data retention is and why it is Important to a body worn camera program.
TEXAS RETENTION SCHEDULE FOR RECORDS OF PUBLIC SAFETY AGENCIES
OFFENSE INVESTIGATION RECORDS
Cases in which an arrest is made or a citation issued and a law enforcement agency has certain knowledge of the pretrial or adjudicated disposition of an arrested or cited person and considers the case to have been cleared by the conviction or acquittal of the person arrested or cited, by the dismissal of charges against the person, or by the entry on the record of a court by a prosecuting attorney of a nolle prosequi.
(1) Class C misdemeanors and unclassified violations of state law or local ordinance punishable by fine only (including arrest reports and citations).
(2) Class A and B misdemeanors and state jail felonies.
(3) Second and third-degree felonies.
(4) First-degree and capital felonies.
(5) Driving while intoxicated offenses.
(6) Or, for any classification of offense.
Date of death of individual, if known.
Retention Note: a) Retention periods date from date of arrest or citation and are based on the highest classification of offense for which a person is arrested and charged or, if applicable, the highest classification of offense for which a person is tried, whichever the lesser classification.
b) Copies of documents in offense investigation records the originals of which are maintained by, filed with, or returned to a court or another state or local law enforcement agency need be retained only as long as administratively valuable. Exceptions are copies of notices or other process that provide certain knowledge to the law enforcement agency of the pretrial or adjudicated disposition of a case.
1.4The student will be able to recognize the provisions relating to data storage, backup, and security maintenance.
1.5 The student will be able to identify public access concerning open records requests.
- 1701.659. Offense. (a) A peace officer or other employee of a law enforcement agency commits an offense if the officer or employee releases a recording created with a body worn camera under this subchapter without permission of the applicable law enforcement agency. (b) An offense under this subchapter is a Class A misdemeanor.
- Recordings documenting incidents involving the use of deadly force by a peace officer or that is otherwise related to an administrative or criminal investigation of an officer may not be deleted, destroyed, or released to the public until all related administrative investigations have concluded.
- A law enforcement agency may release to the public a recording described above if the law enforcement agency determines that the release furthers a law enforcement purpose.
- A law enforcement agency may NOT release any portion of a recording made in a private space, or of a recording involving the investigation of conduct that constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by fine only and does not result in an arrest, without written authorization from the person who is the subject of that portion of the recording or, if the person is deceased, from the person’s authorized representative.
- A recording is confidential if the recording was not required to be made public by law or policy and does not relate to a law enforcement purpose.
1.6 The student will be able to discuss the provisions entitling officer access to incident recordings.
Outlined in Occupation Code 1701 Subchapter-N
1.7 The student will be able to describe the accessibility of recordings as they relate to supervisory or internal review.
Outlined in Occupation Code 1701 Subchapter-N
1.8 The student will be able to demonstrate the handling and documenting of equipment as well as list possible malfunctions.
1.9 The student will be able to discuss the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Texas Rules of Evidence. ARTICLE X. CONTENTS OF WRITINGS, RECORDINGS, AND PHOTOGRAPHS of both Federal and State Rules of Evidence.
1.10 The student will be able to identify when and if personally owned body camera equipment can be utilized.
- If a law enforcement agency receives a grant for BWC, a peace officer who is employed by the agency and who is on duty may ONLY use a BWC that is issued and maintained by that agency.
- If a law enforcement agency is not receiving grant funding for BWC, a peace officer employed by the agency may use a personally owned BWC IF permitted by the agency.
If the agency permits use of personally owned BWC, the agency must make provisions for the security and compatibility of the recordings made by those cameras.
2.0 Unit Goal: Recordings as evidence. Guidelines for creation, deletion, and retention of recordings made by the use of body worn cameras.
There are a variety of reasons why body worn camera footage is useful in evidence collection.
- Presence of video evidence enhances the ability to obtain convictions and increase the number of guilty pleas.
- Video evidence may capture a suspect’s behavior/tone of voice that cannot be documented by words alone. This is important when considering probable cause since it relies specifically on a suspect’s actions, demeanor, and words. Allows juries to ‘see what the officer saw.
- Video evidence provides the opportunity for consistent and accurate report writing as it can be used to assist in recall before writing a report and going to trial.
- Video provides the most accurate depiction and documentation of evidence possible. Officers can also verbally describe what they see, smell, and hear while responding to a scene to better document evidence and provide follow-up to investigators with an understanding of events as they are being investigated.
- Video evidence captures verbal consent. A video recording properly asking for and receiving verbal consent is useful evidence at trial.
2.1 The student will be able to list the situations in which an offense is committed through the release of recordings made with body worn cameras.
- Peace officers or other employees of a law enforcement agency commit an offense if the officer or employee releases a recording created with a body worn camera without the permission of the applicable law enforcement agency. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
2.2 The student will be able to describe when recording created by a body worn camera can be deleted, destroyed, or released.
- Departments may release to the public a recording from a body worn camera if the law enforcement agency determines that the release furthers a law enforcement purpose.
- Audio/video evidence may not be converted for personal use. Proper approval must be obtained for accessing, copying, editing, or releasing recordings or depictions of body worn camera recordings.
- Body worn camera footage will not be edited, altered, erased, duplicated or otherwise distributed without proper authorization from the department.
- A recording created with a body worn camera that documents an incident that involves the use of deadly force by a peace officer or that is otherwise related to an administrative or criminal investigation of an officer may not be deleted, destroyed, or released to the public until all criminal matters have been finally adjudicated and all related administrative investigations have concluded.
3.0 Unit Goal: A member of the public is required to provide specific information when submitting a written request in obtaining information recorded by a body worn camera.
- Date and approximate time of the recording
- Specific location where the recording occurred
- Name of one or more of the persons known to be a subject of the recording.
Note: failure to provide the information above does not preclude the requestor from making a future request for the same recorded information.
Redaction-a form of editing video or camera captured footage to eliminate or alter the collected/documented work.
Private place-is a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from uninvited intrusion or surveillance, but does not include a place to which the public has lawful access.
Voluminous requests-the request of large volumes of video captured technology.
3.1 The student will be able to describe the process that the public has to complete in order to obtain body camera recorded videos.
- Agencies should have clear and consistent protocols for releasing recorded data externally to the public and the news media. Each agency's policy must comply with the state's public disclosure laws. A broad disclosure policy to promote agency transparency and accountability is generally recommended. However, agencies must always take into account privacy considerations when determining whether to release footage. Policies should include specific measures for preventing unauthorized video access or release.
3.2 The student will be able to list the information that an agency can withhold.
- When determining whether a recording should be prohibited, agencies should consider privacy concerns, the need for transparency and accountability, the safety of the officer and the citizen, and the evidentiary value of recording.
- Prohibited recordings should include the following:
- Conversations with confidential informants and undercover officers (to protect confidentiality and officer safety)
- Places where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists (e.g., bathrooms or locker rooms)
- Strip searches
- Conversations with other agency personnel that involve case tactics or strategy
- Policies should clearly state any other types of recordings that are prohibited by the agency
- Agencies should prohibit recording other agency personnel during routine, non-enforcement-related activities unless recording is required by a court order or is authorized as part of an administrative or criminal investigation.
3.3 The student will be able to discuss the term “redaction” and how it applies to body worn camera recordings.
- Redaction – a form of editing video or camera captured footage to eliminate or alter the collected/documented work.
- While agencies that have implemented body-worn cameras report that responding to public disclosure requests can be administratively complicated, departments must implement systems that ensure responses to these requests are timely, efficient, and fully transparent. This process should include reviewing footage to locate the requested video, determining which portions are subject to public release under state disclosure laws, and redacting any portions that state law prohibits from disclosure (e.g., images of juveniles’ faces).
- The most important element of an agency’s policy is to communicate it clearly and consistently within the community.
3.4 The student will be able to define the term “Private Space.”
- Private space – is a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from uninvited intrusion or surveillance, but does not include a place to which the public has lawful access.
- A law enforcement agency may not release any portion of a recording made in a private space.
- Agency may NOT release any portion made in private space OR misdemeanor offense punishable by fine only and not an arrest without prior written permission by the person that is subject of the recording.
3.5 The student will be able to differentiate when a request for an attorney general decision needs to be put into play due to a body worn camera recoding request.
If an exception to releasing a video is considered:
- Section 552.301 (b) Government Code
- Turn it over to your City Attorney
- Attorney General opinion must be requested within 20 business days of the receipt of the written request
- Response to the requestor is considered timely if requested no later than the 20thbusiness day of written request.
- Section 552.301 (e) Government Code
- Turn it over to your City Attorney
- Attorney General opinion must be made within 25 business days of the receipt of the written request
- Response to the requestor is considered timely if made no later than the 25thbusiness day of written request.
Open Records Request
Release of recordings shall be done in accordance with Occupations Code 1701, Subchapter N and Government Code Chapter 552.
3.6 The student will be able to describe voluminous public information requests
Voluminous request includes:
- A request for body camera recordings from more than five separate incidents;
- More than five separate requests for body worn camera recordings from the same person in a 24-hour period, regardless of the number of incidents included in each request; or
- A request or multiple requests from the same person in a 24-hour period for body worn camera recordings that, taken together, constitute more than five total hours of video footage.
- An officer who receives a voluminous request is considered to have promptly produced the information for purposes of release, if the officer takes the actions required before the 21st business day after the date of receipt of the written request.
4.0 Unit Goal: A variety of makes and models of equipment can be utilized in the body worn camera program. Directives and explanations of equipment functions should be utilized while participating in scenario interaction.
Depending on the manufacturer, and model of body camera your department selects to implement, unit functions usually vary from device to device. There are, however, a few functions and specifications that are static to most devices, though may vary in range, class, or quality. These specifications should be considered when choosing a camera for official use.
- Model Number/Serial and Name of the body worn camera.
- Mounting option of the body worn camera (e.g., Head, Chest, Glasses, Helmet, Various).
- Optional mounting locations may require add-on accessories.
- Maximum Video Resolution of the body worn camera (e.g., 640x480, 1080p).
- Recording Speed of the body worn camera (e.g., 30 fps).
- Recording speeds often depend on the video resolution selected.
- Recording Format of the video from the body worn camera (e.g., MPEG-4, MOV).
- Capability to capture Still Photos.
- Embedding of a Time/Date Stamp in the recorded video.
- The Field of View of the body worn camera (e.g., 75°, 120°).
- The Lux Rating of the body worn camera.
- The minimum amount of light that produces an acceptable image. This rating is for normal camera operation and does not take into account any Night Mode.
- Night Mode capable and in what format (e.g., Low Light, IR Lens, etc.).
- Playback Screen availability for on-person video viewing.
- Audio Format of the body worn camera (e.g., MP2, AAC).
- CJIS and Video Safeguards that limit access or editing by users.
- Pre-Event Record feature and the buffered time and if the recording includes audio.
- Event Marking
- Event marking capabilities provided by offline video management software is considered a “No” response.
- The Battery Type used by the body worn camera and whether it is internal or removable.
- The Recording Life of the body worn camera battery.
- The Standby duration of the body worn camera battery.
- The Charge Time of the body worn camera battery.
- The onboard memory Storage capacity of the body worn camera.
- The Recording Time of the body worn camera under default resolution settings.
- Recording time is dependent on the video resolution settings and body worn camera memory.
- GPS or Geo-Location capability, and whether that information is embedded in recorded video.
- The physical Dimensions (in inches) of the body worn camera (camera, control unit and/or battery).
- The Weight of the body worn camera and all accessories worn by a user.
- Environment Testing, and standards held or met through testing.
- Duration of standard Warranty that comes with the body worn camera unit.
- A range of warranty durations indicates an optional extended warranty is available.
- Proprietary Video Management Software used for video management of the body worn camera recordings, and if it is required to use the body worn camera.
- Police Radio Interface option for the body worn camera.
- Vehicle Mountable for dashboard applications.
- Many body worn cameras that can be mounted in a vehicle require optional accessories; these are not included in the price.
- The Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the body worn camera.
- Does not include optional features, accessories or services plans.
- Wireless capabilities to communicate with a computer or external DVR unit.
- Storage option; Hosted/Cloud storage or Local/Server storage capability.
4.1 The student will be able to practice the functionality of the department’s body worn camera.
Specific to the respective departments approved body worn camera; although for the purposes of this course some boilerplate content will need to be added; hence the above specification breakdown which vary by device.
4.2 The student will be able to successfully demonstrate the body worn camera recording process, through scenario involvement.
Specific to the respective departments approved body worn camera; although for the purposes of this course some a conventional scenario model should be recommended.
Body Worn Camera Curriculum Development Committee:
Dr. Rita Watkins- Bill Blackwood Institute LEMIT, Sam Houston State University
Chief Sean Mannix- Cedar Park Police Department/Texas Police Chief’s Association
Melinda Schlager, PH.D- Caruth Police institute
Sheriff Henry Trochesset- Galveston County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Donald Sowell- Grimes County Sheriff’s Office
Officer Johnnie Moreno- City of San Antonio Police Department