On December 13, The Constitution Project Committee on Policing Reforms released a new report, “Guidelines for the Use of Body-Worn Cameras by Law Enforcement.” The group comprises former law enforcement and military officers, prosecutors, judges, and experts in criminal law. Body-worn cameras are well on their way to becoming ubiquitous in police departments nationwide, and, as the report notes, there is some evidence to indicate that body-worn cameras correlate with fewer complaints against police officers, less use of force, and increased professionalism. However, when used without adequate training, oversight, or safeguards against invasive technologies, these tools may thwart efforts to improve accountability and police-community relations and instead create new privacy concerns.
The TCP report presents 23 consensus-based recommendations to help police departments navigate these concerns. Among them are guidelines for ensuring public input to body-worn camera policies; how recorded footage should be maintained, accessed, and disclosed; and providing judicial oversight of emerging technologies such as facial recognition software.
Following the release of the report, TCP Senior Counsel Jake Laperruque gave a presentation on the issue of facial recognition and body-worn cameras at the Cato Institute’s annual Surveillance Conference (video below).