Body Cameras on Campus
An increasing number of colleges and universities are outfitting their sworn officers with wearable, or body, cameras. Body cameras worn by law enforcement officers have become an industry standard in many agencies.
As of April 2017, police officers with The University of Texas at Austin are equipped with portable video cameras worn on the front of their uniforms. The cameras will be worn by officers for a variety of reasons, but most importantly in order to continue to build trust with those they serve and reassure the public that this is yet another step toward achieving mutual safety.
At Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem NC, all security officers and police officers are issued wearable cameras as part of their standard issued equipment.
Northwestern Police at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, began exploring the use of body-worn cameras in April 2016, working in collaboration with key stakeholders across the university to ensure a thoughtful approach. In June 2017, the university began a 30-day pilot phase with five Northwestern police officers. The feedback provided from both the officers and the campus community members shaped implementation. Northwestern went live with body-worn cameras for all sworn personnel on February 1, 2018.
In June 2017, East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, purchased 70 body cameras for campus officers with the intent to have them in use before the end of the year.
There are many more across the country. It is important to remember, however, that just purchasing the cameras and assigning them to officers is only a small part of their use. Policies and procedures should be established to determine how and when the cameras are used as well as who has access to the resulting recordings and now long those recordings are retained, among other considerations.
The University of North Florida Police Department has online a detailed Written Directives Manual on the subject of body-worn cameras for its Jacksonville campus. It can be reviewed here: https://goo.gl/APB4ce.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of College Planning & Management.