fbpx

Broad Pre-Statement Review Of Body Cam Footage Supported

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The attorney general of Texas issued an opinion recently that an officer is legally entitled to see all footage from his body camera, as well as that from the cameras of other officers at the scene, before giving an official statement about an incident the officer was involved in.

Police critics were quick to allege that this policy “will let officers get their story straight about questionable police encounters before putting anything on record.”

“ENTITLED” ACCESS

The issue concerns a section about body-worn law enforcement cameras in the Texas state Occupations Code. That regulation states that an officer is entitled to “access any recording of an incident involving the officer before the officer is required to make a statement about the incident.”
Some agencies, by policy, interpreted this to mean that an officer could review any recording of an incident from his or her own camera but not recordings of the same incident from the cameras of other officers. Other departments, however, granted access to all footage by any BWC at the scene.

Last September, a county DA wrote to Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton for clarification. She pointed out that “an officer who accesses recordings from cameras worn by others may be exposed to images and sounds that the officer did not personally experience.”

Also, she contended, “allowing an officer involved in an incident to access such recordings gives rise to the concern that the officers may embellish their statements based on recordings [of others].” This, she added, “may actually detract from the officer’s credibility when testifying.”
What, she asked, does the law mandate?

CLARIFICATION

Last month, Paxton issued a four-page opinion.
No provision in the law “impliedly restrict[s] the officer’s access rights to only those recordings made by the camera worn by the officer.” The matter, he said, “turns on the meaning of the word ‘any’ in the phrase ‘any recording of an incident involving the officer.’ Texas courts generally interpret ‘any’ to mean ‘every.’ ” Thus:

“[A]n officer’s entitlement to access ‘any’ of the recordings of the incident means that the officer may choose which recording or recordings to access.” And an agency’s policy “may not defeat an officer’s statutory right to access any recording of the incident before providing a statement.”
There may be “valid arguments for or against” full access, he wrote, but the law as written is “unambiguous.” Click here for Paxton’s full opinion letter.

COLLUSION CONCERN

In essence, the magazine Texas Observer reported, “all cops at the scene of an incident get to see everything before any of them are asked to say anything.” This, the magazine worries, will allow officers to “craft a story based on what everyone else saw before going on record” and thereby “get their story straight about questionable encounters.” The magazine quoted a plaintiff’s attorney’s expressed doubts about the legitimacy of police statements under the attorney general’s interpretation.

Observer reporter Michael Barajas wrote that opinions from the attorney general “aren’t legally binding, [but] government agencies typically use them to interpret state law.” The AG’s interpretation, he predicted, “will likely soon trickle down to every department in the state that equips officers with body cameras.”

Our thanks to Force Science Instructor Chris Butler of the Calgary Police Service for alerting us to the Attorney General’s opinion.

GDPR

  • Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Effective date: January 06, 2019

Force Science Institute, Ltd. (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the https://www.forcescience.org/ website (hereinafter referred to as the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data. Our Privacy Policy for Force Science Institute, Ltd. is based on the Privacy Policy Template from Privacy Policies.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, the terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from https://www.forcescience.org/

Information Collection And Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

Personal Data

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Email address
  • First name and last name
  • Phone number
  • Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City
  • Cookies and Usage Data

Usage Data

We may also collect information on how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and hold certain information.

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies also used are beacons, tags, and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service. You can learn more how to manage cookies in the Browser Cookies Guide.

Examples of Cookies we use:

  • Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our Service.
  • Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.
  • Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Use of Data

Force Science Institute, Ltd. uses the collected data for various purposes:

  • To provide and maintain the Service
  • To notify you about changes to our Service
  • To allow you to participate in interactive features of our Service when you choose to do so
  • To provide customer care and support
  • To provide analysis or valuable information so that we can improve the Service
  • To monitor the usage of the Service
  • To detect, prevent and address technical issues

Transfer Of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

Force Science Institute, Ltd. will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure Of Data

Legal Requirements

Force Science Institute, Ltd. may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

  • To comply with a legal obligation
  • To protect and defend the rights or property of Force Science Institute, Ltd.
  • To prevent or investigate possible wrongdoing in connection with the Service
  • To protect the personal safety of users of the Service or the public
  • To protect against legal liability

Security Of Data

The security of your data is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.

Analytics

We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our Service.

  • Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our Service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page: https://policies.google.com/privacy?hl=en

Links To Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us:

  • By email: support@forcescience.org
  • By visiting this page on our website: https://www.forcescience.org/contact
  • By phone number: 866-683-1944
  • By mail: Force Science Institute, Ltd.