When Will Body Worn Cameras Record Community Members
Body worn cameras will be activated on calls for service and activities including traffic stops, pursuits, investigating suspicious people and vehicles, domestic violence incidents, use of force, verbal confrontations, DUI investigations, crimes in progress, offenses involving weapons, and mental health contacts and welfare checks. The body worn cameras will begin their audio recordings 30 seconds before the cameras are activated for recording.
While there is no way to give a comprehensive answer for every scenario, here are a few policies to consider:
- Upon initial contact with community members during a call for service or an investigatory contact, officers will notify the community member, as soon as practicable, that they are being recorded. Officers should ask the community member if they want their identity and/or communications, to remain confidential for public records purposes. Whenever possible, this notification should be recorded and should be repeated to any new arrivals during the contact when feasible.
- If a community member objects to being recorded, the officer may elect to record the encounter despite the objection. Since conversations with police officers are not considered private under Washington law, there is no requirement that the officer turn off the camera for a community member who objects to having the interaction recorded. Officers may notify community members that they will indicate in their report that the community member wishes to not have their information and/or recordings publicly disclosed. The City will make every effort to comply with the request for confidentiality.
- Officers will make a good faith effort to communicate to non-English speakers, those with limited English proficiency, deaf persons, or persons hard of hearing that they are being recorded. Communication cards will be offered, when possible, to aid in the interaction between the public and the officers.
- Officers shall notify persons placed under arrest that they are being recorded and verbally give the Miranda warning on the recording.
- Officers will not be required to inform the person being recorded if the person is being recorded under exigent/emergency circumstances but they should inform the person that is being recorded of that fact as soon as safe and practicable.
More specific examples include:
- Recordings in Homes: Washington State law permits officers to activate their cameras and record in private homes despite the expectation of privacy in homes. With that said, members of the community may request that their interaction not be recorded and for the camera to be deactivated. The officer will use appropriate and reasonable discretion in complying with the request to deactivate including balancing the need to preserve privacy and dignity of community members with any legitimate law enforcement interest in recording.
- Health Care Facilities: Washington State law permits cameras to be activated in medical facilities. While recording may be permissible, Washington State law also prohibits the disclosure of camera recordings from medical facilities where an individual is receiving treatment and prohibits the disclosure of health care information. Duvall Police officers will, as a matter of policy, deactivate cameras in medical facilities for non-law enforcement encounters. Officers will use all appropriate discretion when choosing to record the provision of medical treatment on-scene or during a call for service depending on the exigency of the circumstances at the time of the encounter.
- Schools: The Duvall Police Department School Resource Officer will activate the cameras any time there is suspected criminal activity, known or obvious criminal activity, threats of violence or during times of interviewing a minor as is required by law. Otherwise, the camera will be deactivated.
Do I have to Give Consent to be Recorded?
As members of the public may be aware, Washington State is a two/all-party consent state when it comes to recordings. However, Washington State law provides that recordings of an emergency nature, such as the reporting of a fire, medical emergency, crime or disaster” do not require all-party consent.
Also, all-party consent may be obtained when one party announces to all parties that communications are about to be recorded or transmitted and the announcement that the communication is about to recorded is, also, recorded.
The City of Duvall follows all the requirements of the Secretary of the State of Washington retention schedules for how videos will be stored, retained, released and deleted. Recordings shall be retained for a period consistent with the law and in no event for a period less than 90 days.
It is the City’s general understanding that if an incident is captured on a Body Worn Camera, the City must retain the recording until such time as any litigation or criminal prosecution has been resolved and the appeals process exhausted. Once the matter is resolved and there can be no further appeals, the camera footage can be destroyed.
Disclosure of Records
The City understands that community members may have serious concerns regarding the disclosure of any recordings that are legally required to be retained by the City. RCW 42.56.050 details when disclosure of body worn camera recordings are presumed to be “highly offensive to a reasonable person” and, therefore are exempt from public disclosure. Those circumstances include, but may not be limited to:
- Any areas of a medical facility, counseling, or therapeutic program office where: (1) a patient is registered to receive treatment, receiving treatment, waiting for treatment, or being transported in the course of treatment; OR (2) health care information is shared with patients, their families, or among their care team; OR (3) information is shared that meets the definition of protected health information for purposes of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or health information under RCW 70.02;
- The interior of a place of residence where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy;
- An intimate image;
- Any recording of a minor;
- The body of a deceased person;
- The identify of or communication from a victim or witness of an incident involving domestic violence or sexual assault or the identifiable location of a community-based domestic violence program or emergency shelter.
Requests for Records
A request for body worn camera records may be made by any member of the public and must: (1) specifically identify a name of a person or persons involved in the incident; (2) provide the incident or case number; (3) provide the date, time and location of the incident or incidents; or (4) identify a law enforcement officer involved in the incident.
Individual members of the public who were not directly involved in the incident (or their attorney) do not have the automatic right to unedited footage. Therefore, the Duvall Police Department may charge the individual member of the public reasonable costs for redacting the video consistent with the public records act and privacy concerns.
Others have a specifically defined right, under RCW 42.56.240(14(e) to make a public records request for unedited/unredacted body worn camera footage. Those groups are:
- A person directly involved in an incident recorded by the requested footage;
- An attorney representing a person directly involved in an incident that was recorded;
- An attorney representing a person regarding a potential or existing civil cause of action involving the denial of civil rights;
- The Executive Directors from the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, Asian American Affairs, or Hispanic Affairs.
The information in this “Frequently Asked Questions” does not constitute the provision of legal advice and is for explanatory purposes only. If an individual member of the community has a question regarding a specific situation or application of any rule or procedure to a specific case, the City of Duvall encourages the public to seek their own legal guidance on that topic or issue.