Murray City Police Department
Body Worn Cameras and In Vehicle Cameras
This policy is intended to provide officers with instructions on when and how to use body worn cameras, in vehicle camera and recording devices so that officers may reliably record their contacts with the public in accordance with the law.
Body Worn Cameras and Recording Devices (BWCs) are defined as video and audio recording devices that are worn or carried on an officer’s body for the purpose of recording day to day interactions. This does not include a device intended to record clandestine investigation activities.
In Vehicle Cameras also referred to as Dash Cam devices are defined as video and audio recording devices that are mounted or operated in a Department vehicle for the purpose of recording day to day interactions of the officer such as traffic stops. Secondary cameras such as a backseat camera maybe added to record prisoner transports.
Law Enforcement Encounter – as defined in Utah Code Ann. 77-7a-103; an enforcement stop, a dispatched call, a field interrogation or interview, use of force, execution of a warrant, a traffic stop including a traffic violation, stranded motorist assistance and any crime interdiction stop or any other contact that becomes adversarial after the initial contact in a situation that would not otherwise require recording. (Telephonic details are not considered a law enforcement encounter)
It is the policy of this department that officers shall activate the BWC and Dash Cam video when such use is appropriate to the proper performance of his or her official duties, where the recordings are consistent with this policy and Utah Code Ann. 77-7a-101. This policy does not govern the use of surreptitious recording devices used in undercover operations.
This agency has adopted the use of the BWC and Dash Cams to accomplish several objectives. The primary objectives are as follows:
1. Recording devices allow for accurate documentation of police-public contacts, arrests, and critical incidents. They also serve to enhance the accuracy of officer reports and testimony in court.
2. Audio and video recordings also enhance this Department’s ability to review probable cause for arrest, officer and suspect interactions, and evidence for investigative and prosecutorial purposes and to provide additional information for officer evaluation and training.
3. The video may also be useful in documenting crime and accident scenes or other events that include the confiscation and documentation of evidence or contraband. The BWC will not take the place of crime scene documentation by CSI personnel.
B. When and How to Use the BWC
1. Patrol and uniformed Officers, if issued a BWC, shall activate the BWC to record law enforcement encounters with citizens in the performance of official duties unless otherwise prohibited in this policy.
2. Investigative and non-patrol personnel may use, if available, the BWC to record contacts or incidents of interest.
3. If a BWC was present during a law enforcement encounter, the officer shall document the presence of the BWC in the report, the officer shall also document in the report if video was recorded. This will be noted prior to the report narrative. The following format will be used:
Body Worn Camera Present – (Yes or No)
Body Worn Camera Recording – (Yes or No)
4. BWC’s will be used during the service of all search warrants of businesses, residences, structures or property that is generally occupied by persons. This does not include the service of a search warrant on a device, documents, cases, or items that cannot be occupied by a person.
5. An officer executing a warrant under Utah Code Ann. § 77-23-210 (force used in executing search warrant) shall wear a body worn camera when a camera is available, except in exigent circumstances where it is not practicable to do so.
6. Officers have the discretion but are not required to turn off the camera during conversations with sensitive crime victims/witnesses and members of the community who wish to report or discuss criminal activity and request not to be recorded if the Officer believes that the value of the information outweighs the value of the potential recording and records the request by the individual to deactivate the BWC. Officers should be mindful of the protections a video would provide including evidence against unwarranted accusations of misconduct. Any decision to turn off the camera and reasons why will be documented in the written report.
7. The BWC shall remain activated until the event is completed in order to ensure the integrity of the recording unless the contact moves into an area restricted by this policy. There are times when an officer may find themselves on a detail for an extended period of time during which they are not interacting with citizens, such as protecting a crime scene or waiting for detectives or other personnel. In these circumstances the battery of the BWC or memory may not allow such lengthy recordings. In these circumstances the officer may turn off the camera, however the camera should be turned back on should the situation change. Prior to turning off the camera the officer should narrate the reason for shutting off the camera.
8. If an officer fails to activate the BWC, fails to record the entire contact, or interrupts the recording, the officer shall document why a recording was not made, was interrupted, or was terminated. This documentation can be made by narration prior to turning off the camera or written documentation in a report or both.
9. The BWC may be turned off or placed into privacy mode should it become necessary to discuss issues or concerns with another officer or supervisor in private. The intention to stop the recording should be noted by the officer verbally on the video and as soon as the private conversation has ended the camera will be turned back on.
C. Procedures for BWC Use
1. BWC equipment is issued primarily to uniformed personnel whose primary duties include responding to calls for service, traffic enforcement and members of SWAT. BWCs may be issued to other officers depending on availability.
2. Police personnel who are assigned BWC’s will be trained on the proper use and operation of the device. Additional training may be required at periodic intervals to ensure the continued effective use and operation of the equipment, proper calibration and performance, and to incorporate changes, updates, or other revisions in policy and equipment.
3. BWC equipment is the responsibility of individual officers and will be used with reasonable care to ensure proper functioning. Equipment malfunctions shall be brought to the attention of the officer’s supervisor as soon as possible so that a replacement unit may be procured.
4. Officers shall inspect and test the BWC prior to each shift in order to verify proper functioning and shall notify their supervisor of any problems.
5. The BWC will be registered with each officer so that it will properly document who made the recording as well as the correct time and date.
6. Officers are encouraged to inform their supervisor of any recordings that may be of value for training purposes.
7. Officers should review recorded video and audio to assist with investigations and in the completion of reports.
8. If an officer is suspected of wrongdoing or violation of policy, the department reserves the right to limit or restrict an officer from viewing the video file.
9. Officers shall note in the police report and any related reports that a BWC recording was made. However, BWC recordings are not a replacement for written reports.
10. The BWC shall be worn so that it is clearly visible to the person being recorded and should be worn in a location that is best suited for obtaining unobstructed video and be able to be reasonably mounted and worn for an entire shift. Officers should relocate the BWC if it is covered up when putting on a coat or other clothing or equipment.
11. When an officer with a BWC enters a private residence, the officer shall give notice, when reasonable under the circumstances, to the occupants of the residence that a body worn camera is in use either by:
i. Wearing the BWC in a clearly visible manner; or
ii. Giving an audible notice that the officer is using a body worn camera
12. The Department recognizes that in some circumstances the BWC will not be available for the officer’s use, such as while traveling to and from work and equipment failures.
D. Restrictions on Using the BWC – BWC’s shall not generally be used to record:
1. Communications with other police personnel without the permission of the Chief of Police or designee
2. Encounters with undercover officers or confidential informants
3. When on break or otherwise engaged in personal activities
4. In any location where individuals have a special expectation of privacy, such as a restroom or locker room. (special circumstances, to include but not limited to, criminal interrogation, arrest, use of force, search and seizure may exist that would require the recording be made in these locations)
E. Prohibited Activities
An officer is prohibited from:
1. Using a BWC for personal use
2. Making a personal copy of a recording created while on duty or acting in an official capacity as a law enforcement officer;
3. Retaining a recording of any activity or information obtained while on duty or acting in an official capacity as a law enforcement officer;
4. Duplicating or distributing a recording except as authorized by a supervising officer; and
5. Altering or deleting a recording in violation of this policy.
F. When and How to Use Dash Cam
1. The Dash Cam should be turned on (standby mode) when operating the vehicle on or off duty. If the officer will be out of the car for a substantial period of time the Dash Cam can be turned off.
2. Officers should activate the Dash Cam to record traffic stops, DUI, vehicle searches, accidents, transports and other contacts of interest with the public. The Dash Cam should also be activated anytime the vehicle is being operated in an emergency response or during a pursuit.
3. Officers must wear the audio transmitter when operating the vehicle on duty. Officers are required to record both audio and video. The audio transmitter should be readily available for use when operating the vehicle off duty.
4. The Dash Cam should be programmed and installed to begin recording at minimum when the emergency lights are activated. Once the video has been activated by the emergency light system, the officer should record the entire incident. The Dash Cam may be turned off if the officer has a valid, articulate reason.
5. Officers should turn off any music radio or player while the Dash Cam is recording so as to not interfere with the audio that needs to be captured on the system.
G. Procedures for Dash Cam use.
1. Dash Cams will be installed primarily in marked patrol cars. The Department may choose to install cameras in any Department vehicle.
2. The Officer operating a Department vehicle equipped with a Dash Cam will use the camera in compliance with this policy.
3. Officers are responsible for inspecting the video recording system in their Department issued vehicle at the beginning of each shift. Any problems shall be reported to the shift supervisor. The supervisor must then notify the video system administrator.
4. Officers are encouraged to inform their supervisor of any recordings that may be of value for training purposes.
5. Officers should review recorded video and audio to assist with investigations and in the completion of reports.
6. If an officer is suspected of wrongdoing or violation of policy, the department reserves the right to limit or restrict an officer from viewing the video file.
7. Officers shall note in the Police Report and any related reports that a Dash Cam recording was made.
8. The Dash Cam will be mounted in a location best suited for obtaining unobstructed video and does not interfere with the operation of the vehicle. The Officer will not obstruct the camera.
H. Uploading of files, storage and access to data, both BWC and Dash Cam video
1. All files shall be securely uploaded and tagged periodically and no later than the end of each shift or at any time specified by the shift supervisor. Each file shall contain information related to the date, case number or type of incident and assigned officer.
2. All video and audio files recorded by an officer during the performance of their official duties will be considered Department property regardless of if the recording was made with Department or personally owned equipment.
3. Officers shall not edit, alter or erase any recording. Requests for deletion of all or portions of the recordings (e.g., in the event of a personal recording) must be approved by the Chief of Police or his/her designee.
4. Recordings will not be copied, shared or otherwise distributed except for official department business. Requests for copies of a video for other reasons must be approved by the Chief of Police or his/her designee.
5. Files may be disseminated to other law enforcement or prosecutorial agencies upon request.
6. Files shall be securely stored in accordance with applicable federal, state and city records retention laws and no longer than useful for purposes of training or for use in an investigation or prosecution. Files may be retained on the video server or attached to the case file.
7. Data files will be retained based on the following:
i. Misdemeanor and felony investigations including traffic offenses will be retained for 5 years or until the expiration of statute of limitations.
ii. Recordings that are not listed above will be retained for 6 months.
iii. On cases where criminal charges have been filed, the video files should be attached to the case file for retention, either electronically or a physical copy. These video files will not be deleted without the approval of the case manager or supervisor.
iv. Recordings retained for other purposes such as training and internal affairs may be exported from the video server and saved until no longer needed.
8. Files and data may be released to the public and other entities based on the requirements of GRAMA laws and procedures.
I. Supervisory Responsibilities
1. Supervisory personnel shall ensure that officers equipped with BWC and Dash Cam devices utilize them in accordance with policy and procedures defined herein.
2. Supervisors should randomly review BWC and Dash Cam recordings to ensure that the equipment is operating properly and that officers are using the devices appropriately and in accordance with policy and to identify any areas in which additional training or guidance is required.
3. Officers who are found to have a pattern of not recording interactions or are in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action.