Winbourne Consulting offers a full range of public safety services, including strategic planning, systems integration, specifications development, solution acquisition, and implementation project management and quality assurance.
Our Areas of Expertise encompass all segments of Public Safety, including:
Our Clients include city, county, state, and federal agencies located throughout the United States and the world, as well as countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America.
Body Worn Cameras Lessons Learned
The rapid proliferation of the implementation of Body Worn Camera (BWC) systems in law enforcement has generated some excellent “lessons learned” and “how to” information gleaned from the real world experience of many respected professional organizations.
The current state of the BWC system arena is very dynamic due to a multitude of reasons such as:
With all of this experience, it has become clear to everyone involved with these systems that there is nothing simple about implementing a BWC system. There are multifaceted policy, procedural, legal, technical and operational questions and scenarios that must be thoroughly discussed and vetted for the initiative to be successful. Probably the most critical success factor is to not underestimate the complexity of a BWC system and the level of effort required to effectively implement a BWC system and to achieve the desired goals and objectives. As a result of this complexity, it is imperative to include all relevant stakeholders in the strategic planning and decision making process.
Below are a number of examples of the types of issues typically encountered during the implementation of BWC systems. Many departments started with the reasonable basis of making BWC policy and procedure decisions based on a law enforcement operations perspective and a strictly legal interpretation of the law. In doing so, they encountered a number of issues that needed to be resolved to have a truly functioning BWC system. Below are some examples of the issues that can arise and the steps needed to be taken to avoid them.
Step 1 – Review of State Legislation and Case Law
A great example for this issue is when should consent by a citizen to be video/audio recorded be required? Most states have a “one-party consent” law that allows the video/audio recording of an individual as long as one of the parties in the conversation has agreed to the recording. Some law enforcement agencies use this law as the foundation that citizen consent is not a legal requirement and therefore does not need to be included in their policy, procedures and training instruction. While the department’s policy may be legally accurate, an important question is does the policy detract from original goal of employing a BWC system if one of the objectives is improving community relations and trust? Could the mandatory BWC recording of certain types of victims (i.e., sexual battery, domestic battery, child abuse, etc.) result in victims not coming forward to report a crime? There are many scenarios in which people believe they have a “right of privacy” whether or not the law supports their perspective. For example:
Step 2 – Engage All Stakeholders
It is important for law enforcement organizations to include all relevant stakeholders in the development of a BWC system policy, procedures and training curriculum to understand their perspective. Relevant stakeholders include:
Step 3 - Collaborate with Criminal Justice System Partners
A successful implementation includes a solution for how BWC data will be exchanged with all criminal justice system partners including the Prosecuting/District Attorney and Public/Private Defense Attorney’s offices, and how it will be displayed and entered into evidence in criminal and civil court depositions and trials. All BWC data associated with a criminal investigation (i.e., all officers on scene) will need to be routinely provided to criminal justice system partners, so a mechanism and process is required to ensure no BWC data is accidently not shared during the legal discovery process.
Additionally, departments should ensure they have identified key BWC positions, such as the official Records/Evidence Custodian of the BWC Data and System Administrator, who can expertly testify the BWC system is secure and a BWC video has not been altered in anyway.
Finally, departments should collaborate with criminal justice system partners regarding the ownership of BWC system data and what entity has the legal authority to release it. During an active criminal investigation the law enforcement agency typically has control of BWC system data. However, once the case transitions to the prosecution phase, the Prosecuting/District Attorney now has a role in whether or not any BWC data should be released. The same is true for once the case is adjudicated in the court system - What entities will have the legal ability to release BWC system data?
Step 4 – Ensure a Digital Media Policy Exists
Another important lesson learned is ensuring the department employs a comprehensive digital media policy that covers all digital media, not just the BWC system. Rules of evidence and chain of custody procedures are the same for all digital media. There is no difference between a confession made on a BWC system in the field and a confession made on a small digital audio recorder used by a detective in an interview room. Both contain digital media that is evidence. Departments should ensure their policies, procedures, training and customs are the same for all digital media to avoid legal challenges and having to answer deposition and trial questions on why all digital media is not maintained in the same manner.
Step 5 – Allow For the Use of Off-Duty/Secondary Employment
Detailed planning is required if the utilization of a BWC system will be required for Off-Duty/Secondary Employment assignments. There are many logistical questions including:
Step 6 – Determine Policy for FOIA/Public Records Requests As They Apply To Body Worn Camera Files
FOIA/Public Records requests continue to be both an important and complicated issue for a variety of reasons. First of all, there is no uniformity from state to state regarding FOIA/Public Records Request legislation. Some states are restrictive in what can be released while other states focus on transparency and are wide-open in the type of information that should be released to the public upon request.
There are numerous types of environments that have a direct impact on whether are not a BWC data must be released pursuant to a FOIA/Public Records Request. For example:
Step 7 - Determine What Entity “Owns” the BWC Data.
A law enforcement agency may own BWC data while the incident is an active criminal investigation; however, in some jurisdictions once the incident is transitioned to the criminal justice system, the District/Prosecuting Attorney’s Office may now have a position of whether or not BWC data should be released. Also, once the case is adjudicated by the courts, a citizen can make a FOIA/Public Records Request to multiple entities for the same data – 1. Law Enforcement Agency, 2. District/Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and 3. Clerk of Courts if the BWC data was introduced as evidence. Each entity may have is own criteria for approving/disapproving a FOIA/Public Records Request
Departments should ensure they obtain legal advice from both their jurisdiction attorney and the District/Prosecuting Attorney’s Office prior to the development of their FOIA/Public Records Request policy for BWC data. Since legislation in this area is dynamic they should also maintain current knowledge of State Attorney General rulings and impending legislation.
An Example of a State Initiative – The State of Colorado Legislature Initiative
In order to effectively assist local law enforcement agencies in the implementation of Body Worn Camera systems, the Colorado State Legislature established a statewide Study Group of people representing many of the above organizations to provide recommendations for the following key questions:
The State of Colorado Study Group process has benefited all stakeholders in their ability to:
Prince William County, Virginia selected Winbourne Consulting to assist them in the acquisition of a Body Worn Camera (BWC) System.
The tasks involved include:
Winbourne Consulting will be assisting San Mateo County, California in performing a CAD Gap Analysis.
The CAD Gap Analysis includes assisting San Mateo County in an analysis of their current system versus other CAD systems including: 1) review of the existing functionality, performance, programming capability and maintenance of the existing CAD system; features, functionality, capability, local control mechanisms and customization of current market CAD systems; 2) provide a report of what functionality would be lost, lost and gained (i.e. gap analysis), and what new functionality would be gained when the replacement occurs; 2) generate the estimated procurement costs (range) of a fault tolerant, multi-jurisdictional, multi-class CAD and general requirements of the County’s consolidated Emergency 911 Dispatch Center.
FEBRUARY 21-24, 2016
9-1-1 Goes to Washington brings together hundreds of 9-1-1 professionals from around the country with policy leaders in our nation's capital to explore and discuss today's most pressing 9-1-1 and emergency communications issues. 9-1-1 Goes to Washington is the only event where you can learn about the policy challenges facing public safety and take immediate action to address them through dialog with your elected and appointed officials.
March 15-16 2016
Kansas City, MO
The Emerging Technology Forum is a two-day event created to meet the needs of public safety communications professionals who want an overview of technologies that are on the horizon and address the challenges of the ever-changing landscape of public safety communications
Articles of Interest
DHS Outlines Cybersecurity Research in Twitter Chat
As communications, and other technology, becomes more connected, cybersecurity becomes a bigger issue. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate hosted a Twitter chat Oct. 21 to discuss distributed denial of service attacks and what can be done about them. During the chat, the department outlined the efforts of its Distributed Denial of Services Defenses program to improve cybersecurity for mission-critical organizations. DHS highlighted a collaboration with Galois that is looking at comparing attack data from different organizations. By comparing the data, DHS hopes to find where the attacks are coming from and cut off that traffic.
TASER, Microsoft Introduce Integrated Camera and Digital-Evidence Management Solution
TASER will integrate its Evidence.com solution and Axon camera systems with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and Windows 10 devices, providing the function of digital-evidence management, data analysis and real-time decision support that can be delivered on an array of rugged mobile devices. The integration of TASER’s public-safety camera systems and Microsoft’s cloud platform will streamline the evidence-intake process and add mobility, which enables the flexibility to process data anytime and on any device.
Wearable Gateway Bridges Responder Devices
Mutualink is trying to address disconnects the emergency responders deal with during an emergency, and improve emergency responders’ situational awareness with its Wearable Smart Gateway. The WSG reduces response times by bridging critical equipment such as body cameras, locator beacons, handheld sensors and devices transmitting voice, data, video, sensor and location information through a secure wide-area network.
DPSCR Location Summit Identifies Z Axis, Maps as Critical Focus Areas
Two primary focus are as emerged from the Public Safety Communications Research summit on location-based services held last month in Boulder, Colorado. The first area of focus is developing technology that can accurately determine z-axis coordinates for first responders. The second focus area is the ability to easily generate useful maps of buildings for responders. Both focus areas can work together to create situational awareness at the scene of an incident, allowing potential x, y and z axis information to correspond with specific hallways and rooms located on a map.