The University of Texas at Austin has equipped campus police officers with portable video cameras that will be worn on the front of their uniforms.
The university says the devices will be used to record interactions with people during officers' daily duties.
“This is a huge step forward for UTPD in supporting our mission to keep our entire community safe,” says David Carter, chief of UT Austin’s police department. “We have been researching the use of cameras for quite some time and are pleased with this solution as it reinforces the importance of transparency and accountability to those we serve.”
The cameras will help the university police build trust with those they serve, officials say. They will be used to record interactions only with people whom officers come into contact with in an official capacity, such as responding to emergency calls or making an arrest.
Although recordings may be used to document interviews of victims and witnesses during investigations, the department has established policies to protect the privacy of victims and witnesses. In criminal cases, the recordings will be considered evidence and could be used during court cases.
The digital recordings will be downloaded to a secure storage server and retained for future reference.
Recordings related to criminal investigations will be retained for one year or longer based on case specifics, and all other routine files will be retained for 90 days. Each recording has an audit trail, and officers are prevented from editing or deleting recordings.
The technology also captures an officer’s field of view during incidents, which will be used to substantiate their observations during arrests and other public interactions.
Supervisors will have the ability to review recordings during audits to ensure continued professionalism, adherence to departmental policies, and for training purposes.
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