February 8th Meetup – Crafting Public Policy Governing the Use of Police Body Cameras

Our speaker this month will be Kathy Mitchell. Kathy is a volunteer with the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition working to require police to get a warrant to access cell phone location data. She was a policy analyst on Open Government issues for Consumers Union for several years and led public advocate negotiating of the last major rewrite of the Public Information Act. In 2006, she was the PAC Treasurer for a Prop that would have opened police misconduct records if it had passed. She has been in the trenches for more than 20 years trying to make sure the public can see government records and hold government accountable while protecting that same public from government intrusion in the form of unwarranted surveillance.

Kathy will be discussing the privacy and data retention issues surrounding the coming widespread use of Police Body Cameras both in Austin and at large. Very soon, Austin police officers will be equipped with video cameras (body cams) that will always be on during encounters with the public. But the city has yet to finalize a policy around data collection, data privacy, data retention/expunction and public access. There is a strong interest in public access, especially for video related to misconduct or incidents in which a civilian is hurt or killed. There is also a strong interest in privacy for everyone who may be the subject of body camera video. This talk will walk through some of the options that are on the table for an APD body camera policy that encourages accountability while also protecting privacy. We will also discuss the process by which such a policy could be enacted, and what will happen if we enact no policy at all.

A good resource for attendees to read beforehand: http://calibrepress.com/2016/01/barriers-to-officer-worn-video-the-ten-per-cent-challenge/

Legislation authorizing body cams and setting the legal framework for Texas: 84(R) SB 158 – Enrolled version – Bill Text

City of Austin APD Bodycam page

COA body cam vendor RFP, now closed but downloadable: COA Financial Services

Current body cam policy to be replaced by one that addresses key issues: http://austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Police/APD_Policy_2015-2_Issued_5-1-2015-updated.pdf (Go to policy 303 at page 125.)

Other references:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/02/05/a-new-report-shows-the-limits-of-police-body-cameras/

https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/police-body-camera-policies-privacy-and-first-amendment-protections

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