When Are Police Officers Required to Turn on Their Body Cameras?

Cases of police brutality have continued to spike in recent years, and national protests against it have made the news repeatedly. The conversation around police misconduct has prompted many Americans to become more critical of law enforcement and wary of their presence. Since 2014, many states have introduced body cameras into their local police departments to document encounters with civilians and increase accountability among their officers.

Having existed as a measure of control in the United States for less than a decade, body-worn cameras are still a relatively new security feature, leaving many citizens wondering about the rules and protocols attached to their use and how they help make your community safer.

What Are Body Cameras?

Worn near the center of the chest or on the torso, body cameras are small devices which actively record an interaction between a police officer and a civilian. These cameras can range in size but are often small enough to not get in the way of an officer’s duties. They come equipped with a microphone, allowing law enforcement to record both audio and visual components of an altercation.

Anything recorded with a police body camera is given a time stamp and sometimes a GPS location. There is a variation of this technology which allows officers to livestream from their body camera, creating a feed that is then recorded and stored in case it needs to be reviewed in the future as evidence.

Not all police cameras have the capability to record continuously, and many of them need to be manually turned on and off. Although some states require that their officers keep body cameras on at all times, there are many places where this is not the case.

Are Police Body Cameras Mandatory in Florida?

In the State of Florida, police officers are not required to wear a body camera, but there are many counties who have implemented them. Agencies that have required their officers to wear body cameras must abide by a strict set of regulations, including training protocols, usage, care, and maintenance.

Any department that utilizes body-worn recording equipment must have it turned on at all times. This requirement provides as much safety for the civilian as it does for the officer, ensuring accountability on all sides and proof of any incident that might occur.

Benefits of Police-Worn Body Cameras

Footage from the body camera of a police officer is highly valuable in a court of law. Recordings and photographs taken at the scene make great evidence in the event of a criminal case. Using body camera footage as proof benefits officers and civilians alike.

If a law enforcement officer is ever brought to court on charges of misconduct against a citizen, videos and still images from their body camera footage can be helpful for either the defendant or the plaintiff to prove their case to the court. Physical evidence is an important aspect of pleading innocent before a judge and jury.

In addition to acting as proof in court, body cameras have other safety benefits. One study found a significant reduction in use of force when officers wore body cameras, while another discovered that departments received fewer complaints about the conduct of their officers while cameras were recording.

Contact Qualified Criminal Defense Lawyers in Orlando, Florida

Encountering local law enforcement can be unsettling, especially if you are innocent. It can be even more confusing if you feel that an officer is infringing on your rights as a citizen. If you feel that a police officer has exhibited misconduct toward you or someone you love, if you have been falsely accused of a crime, or if you have witnessed them turn off their body camera to avoid accountability, contact an experienced lawyer who can help you seek the justice you deserve.

Our team at The Umansky Law Firm has over 100 years of collective experience helping clients just like you build a strong case. We will work with you to construct a solid defense and walk you through the process step-by-step. Let our trusted attorneys fight for you.

When you’re ready to begin, call (407) 228-3838 or contact us online for a free consultation