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Posted on behalf of Bill Kerry, Director and Chief, Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management

The Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management and the Office of the General Counsel will host two campus community forums this week to introduce the goals and guidelines of the Ithaca College Body-Worn Camera Program. The program is one component of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives that were announced in the fall of 2015. The forums will include a short introduction of the body-worn cameras and allow members of the community to have a discussion and ask questions prior to implementation, which is targeted for mid-April.

The goal of the Body-Worn Camera Program is, above all else, to increase the safety of our officers, our community members, and campus guests. As part of that objective, the Office of Public Safety will continue to build on its relationships with all segments of the campus community. The Body-Worn Camera Program seeks to take the opportunity within each law enforcement interaction to increase trust, transparency, and accountability on campus.

The forums will be held at the following dates, times, and locations:

* Wednesday, April 5, 7–8 p.m., Room 301, Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise

* Thursday, April 6, noon–1:00 p.m., Room 3304, Whalen Center

Additionally, campus community members who want to try out a body-worn camera can do so by stopping by the Public Safety Satellite Office in the Campus Center Monday–Friday, April 3–7, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. This is highly encouraged as it allows our community to be “hands on” with the cameras.

The following are the specific goals and guidelines for the Body-Worn Camera Program. These will also be posted on the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management website at www.ithaca.edu/safety.

1. Transparency

The college is publishing the program guidelines and will post any updates on the Office of Public Safety website and will work with campus constituencies to address any privacy concerns, with special attention to such concerns during the first year of the program.

2. Clear Guidance on When Officers Will Record

Officers will record during all enforcement-related activities. However, officers will have the discretion to stop recording in the interests of individuals’ personal privacy or in the interests of safety or de-escalation.

3. Notification to Individuals

Consent from a subject is not required prior to starting a recording, but officers will make reasonable efforts to inform individuals (whether a campus community member or a guest) that they are being recorded, unless doing so would be unsafe. 

4. Respect for Personal Privacy Concerns

Officers are authorized to stop the recording if, in their discretion, sensitive personal privacy concerns may be at issue, such as when encountering victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse, or if an individual is partially or wholly unclothed. Officers have similar discretion when dealing with individuals who express some particular fear or concern about retaliation. 

5. Limited Public Disclosure.

For many reasons, including personal privacy, investigatory obligations, and other institutional needs, access to body-worn camera footage will generally be limited to authorized individuals in the Office of Public Safety. Nonetheless, the college will balance the public’s right to information with the integrity of any criminal investigation or prosecution on a case-by-case basis when considering any request for public disclosure of private footage, subject as well to any restrictions under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or other applicable laws.

6. Under Special Circumstances, Officers Will Make Written Reports Prior to Viewing

Officers will generally have access to the video prior to creating the written police report. However, a written statement may be required prior to viewing the video under certain circumstances, including incidents involving a use of force or complaints of officer misconduct.

7. Makes Footage Available to Individuals Filing Complaints

If no criminal charges are involved, individuals who file legitimate complaints may be temporarily authorized to view relevant video footage maintained by the Office of Public Safety. 

8. Limits Retention of Footage

To help protect against any unintended use, the Office of Public Safety must delete uncategorized footage within six months. Furthermore, we will follow the New York State Education Department retention schedule as it relates to public safety records.

9. No use of Biometric Technologies

The Office of Public Safety’s recorded video and audio data will not include technological enhancements such as facial recognition or night–vision capabilities.

10. Protects Footage Against Tampering and Misuse

The policy expressly prohibits unauthorized access. Whenever footage is accessed, an identifiable log entry will be created in the Office of Public Safety’s existing file management software.

The above guidelines are based on model policies and best practices as established by several widely recognized and appropriate authorities, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Additionally, the college has had many discussions with the Ithaca Police Department and Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, both of which have implemented body-worn cameras, as well as the Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office. We want to make sure that we are consistent and accountable in our application of this technology.

Community Forums for Public Safety's Body Worn Camera Program | 0 Comments |
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