Police Review Commission recommends changes to policy on body-worn cameras at meeting

Janie Chen/Staff

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The Police Review Commission examined and recommended changes to the recently released policy on body-worn cameras at its regular meeting Wednesday.

The policy, released Sept. 28, provides guidelines for procedures involving the use of body-worn cameras. A recurring concern from the commission has been about the relationship between department-issued iPhones and the new body-worn cameras. The commission raised questions about what happens when the cameras fail to function and if officers can view footage from cameras prior to writing reports.

“The restrictions of the policy and the rules of the policy apply to what is taken on the body-worn camera. The iPhone that you have is a separate recording device,” said Commissioner Ari Yampolsky at the meeting. “Using a department-issued iPhone is not covered by this restriction.”

According to Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood, the department-issued iPhones will only be used for viewing the footage from the body-worn cameras through a specialized app. The footage will not be recorded or stored on the iPhone.

The commission passed a motion that recommended the language in the policy be changed to make it clear that the body-worn camera must be used to record unless “exigent circumstances” exist, such as if the body-worn camera fails to function.

Greenwood explained to the committee the initial processes for body-worn camera training. Confusion over the application used on the iPhones and the actual device was also discussed at the meeting.

“The desire to want more information was the question,” said Commissioner Andrea Prichett during the meeting.“How easy or how difficult it was for officers to view each other’s body-worn camera footage.”

Commissioner Kitty Calavita proposed a demonstration of the body-worn cameras and its specific applications between the chief and the commission for a “concrete demonstration.”

The commission will continue to review the body-worn camera policies at the next meeting, revisiting concerns over the usage of the cameras and the chief’s proposals.

Sabrina Dong covers crime and courts. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Sabrina_Dong_.

A previous version of this article misspelled Andrea Prichett’s name.