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Durham officers to begin using body cameras; public feedback sought on draft policy

Posted December 17, 2015

Body cameras

— The Durham Police Department will soon begin using body cameras, and officials said Thursday that they want public feedback about how the cameras will be used after finalizing a policy for officers.

The department held six forums earlier this year to give residents a chance to speak to police leadership about the use of cameras, and in a Thursday news release, a spokesperson said the department is finalizing the selection of which cameras officers will wear. A date for when Durham officers will begin wearing them hasn't been decided.

As the city of Durham works to which camera officers will wear, Chief Deputy Anthony Marsh said police leaders drafted a police to regulate their use.

"This first year is really going to tell us a lot about the program," he said.

Marsh said the policy was drafted after residents expressed concern over when the cameras would be recording.

"That decision is going to be made by the officer at the moment...quite frankly, it should be," Marsh said.

According to the policy, officers should wear the camera their entire shift and turn them on whenever an officer comes into contact with a citizen.

Durham police will take public comments about the draft policy through the first two weeks of January.

“Body cameras represent an opportunity for the Durham Police Department to enhance transparency and accountability to the community,” Police Chief Jose L. Lopez Sr. said in a statement. “We received a lot of great feedback from the listening sessions and we want to hear directly from residents about the draft policy. As always, we welcome and encourage residents to voice their ideas, priorities and concerns.”

Durham residents can provide comments about the body camera policy using an online survey feature, by email at DPDPublicAffairs@durhamnc.gov or phone by calling 919-560-4322, ext. 29198.

Highlights of the draft body camera policy include the following:

  • While body cameras could eventually become standard issue for all officers, initial deployment will include Uniform Patrol and High Enforcement Abatement Team (H.E.A.T.) officers.
  • Officers will wear the body cameras for their entire work shift and during secondary employment/off-duty jobs.
  • Officers will be required to begin recording immediately upon being dispatched to a call for service.
  • Once placed in record mode policy requires that cameras will remain on until the initial incident that required activation has stabilized or concluded and the primary officer has left the scene. (Parameters for deactivation of cameras and guidelines for prohibited use are outlined in the policy.)
  • Camera footage will be stored for at least 180 days unless it involves DWIs, misdemeanor or felony cases, accidents involving City of Durham vehicles or administrative investigations.
  • Video footage captured by the cameras are records of a criminal investigation, just like the current in-car camera footage. As such, they are not public records per North Carolina General Statute §132-1.4.
  • Officers will be required to complete training on both the cameras and the video management software prior to wearing the cameras.
  • Cameras will not be shared between officers.

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  • Gerald Elliott Dec 17, 2015
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    I am so glad that finally everyone in Durham will get to see first hand what kind of mess that DPD Officers have to deal with. You will get to see how jacked up Durhamites are. You will see that the DPD is well underpaid for the mess that have to put up with! It will make you appreciate them and wonder why in the heck do they put up with these people!

  • Wanda Paylor Dec 17, 2015
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    To help educate each other, we all have to understand each other and hear ALL of our feelings. WRAL and other news media outlets present the black point of view and the hispanic point of view but never explore how whites feel. It seems that news is all about pitting us against each other rather than trying to heal the divides. It is all about the ratings. Just my opinion.

  • Randi Thistle Dec 17, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    that must be a joke. cops have been caught on camera killing unarmed people...cop is still walking free. the cameras will just show us the TRUTH, not that it's relevant to the law, because truth is irrelevant to the law.

  • Steve Graff Dec 17, 2015
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    I think that the proliferation of phones with video cameras, Go Pro's and now body cameras it's has the potential to make it harder to tell a lie.

  • John Jung Sr. Dec 17, 2015
    user avatar

    It's going to get interesting now.cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect

  • Charlie Watkins Dec 17, 2015
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    Best way not to offend anyone or get yourself into trouble is to look the other way. Once the violence is over then the cop can go over and talk to those still standing.

    On the pay that the cops get it is not worth the hassle stopping anyone who may be offended by your interference.

  • Victoria Clark Dec 17, 2015
    user avatar

    Good now people will see just how many people are actually lying when they have complaints