WPD outlines new body camera policy

Body cameras. (KSN file photo)
Officer Timothy Baird shows off new body cameras on Thursday morning. (KSN Photo)
Officer Timothy Baird shows off new body cameras on Thursday morning. (KSN Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and Interim Chief Nelson Mosley on Thursday provided an update regarding implementation of body cameras which includes a new policy.

The goal is to have all cameras in place by end of December if needed federal funding comes in.  Right now, 55 officers are in possession of them. Every officer will eventually have them.

“Every single officer has one camera so that we ensure that the battery will get recharged and the information will be streamed automatically,” said Mayor Longwell.

The new police policy is nine pages with 74 different points. It includes operation use and training, victim and witness privacy, and information about viewing and releasing video.

The city, law department, and police department developed the policy, and public groups, like Sunflower Community Action, the NAACP, and the ACLU of Kansas, reviewed it.

“We found that we shared a commitment to be as transparent as possible in the use of body warn cameras, while still balancing other important values, public values such as safety, integrity of criminal investigations and privacy rights,” said Interim Deputy Chief Gavin Seiler.

Wichita City Council members say they are in favor of the new body cameras in order to enhance officer and public safety.

Officers also provided a presentation on the new cameras.

“I think they’re very beneficial to both us and the citizens. I was one of the first officers selected to test the first model of this that the city got in 2011,” said Officer Timothy Baird.

What the policy says

The policy is very clear that there will be a specific amount of time the evidence contained in each video will be held.

The department tells KSN that depending on the categories, retention rates for some videos might be held longer than others.

For example, in the case of a vehicle or pedestrian stops resulting in a citation, videos will be held for two years.

Videos of misdemeanor criminal offenses will be kept for three years, and for crimes such as rape, homicide and all incidents involving the use of deadly force, videos will be held indefinitely.

KSN also wanted to find out about what the new body camera policy says about victims of crime.

The policy says any videos that identify the victim of a sexual crime won’t be released unless required by law.

Body camera videos taken inside a health care, mental health or social services facility will fall under the same guideline.

To see the policy, click the document below:

151015-WPD-BodyCamera-Policy-thumb

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