Twenty-five Arlington County Police Officers and Sheriff’s Deputies begun testing and evaluating Body Worn Camera (BWC) technology. The BWC test and evaluation phase is an additional method to enhancing accountability and transparency while officers provide dedicated service to the residents and visitors of Arlington County. Video from the cameras may be used as evidence for criminal investigations and administrative investigations while enabling the Department to identify areas for growth and improvement, and commendatory actions. The pilot program was completed in 2016.
Q: What is a Body-Worn Camera?
A: A small, battery-powered camera worn by police officers and sheriff’s deputies on the exterior of their ballistic vest or uniform shirt.
Q: What is the purpose of BWCs?
A: The purpose of BWCs is to:
- To assist with the collection of evidence;
- Enhance transparency, public trust and confidence;
- Provide the best evidence of police/public interactions;
- De-escalation of situations.
Q: What is the testing schedule?
A: BWC technology will be tested and evaluated under the following schedule:
- August 29 – September25 (Vendor #1)
- October 5 – November 1 (Vendor #2)
- November 16 – December 13 (Vendor #3)
Q: Will the BWCs record audio as well as video?
Q: How will I know if I’m being recorded by a BWC?
A: At their discretion, an officer may inform any citizen, suspect or arrested individual that their actions/conversations are being recorded.
Q: Can I request an officer to discontinue recording?
A: An officer is not required to discontinue recording at the request of anyone other than a supervisor with the following exception:
In locations where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a residence, they may decline to be recorded unless the recording is being made pursuant to an arrest or search of the residence or the individuals. However, an officer called to a residence in response to a request for service may record, unless the individual who made the call for service asks the officer to stop recording. 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 policy.
Q: Where are the BWC videos stored?
A: All videos will be uploaded to a secure Cloud platform and are the property of the Arlington County.
Q: Who has access to view BWC videos?
A: Each officer assigned a BWC is permitted to review their own video and audio footage of an incident in which they were involved. Supervisors are only permitted to view recordings made by officers under their direct supervision and videos related to incidents they are investigating, unless otherwise directed by the Chief of Police or designee.
Q: Can BWC videos be viewed by the public?
A: Only the Chief of Police, designee, or the Office of Professional Responsibility may authorize the release of any recordings. These recordings shall be considered official records and are regarded with the same lawful rules of confidentiality. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for audio/video recordings shall be forwarded to the Commander of the Office of Professional Responsibility for processing.
Q: How long are BWC videos kept?
A: The Arlington County Police will follow the Library of Virginia, Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. Retention is based on the type of offense and nature of the investigation.