Cincinnati releases policy for police body cams

Posted at 11:33 AM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 12:25:57-04

CINCINNATI -- New policies released Tuesday detail, specifically, when Cincinnati police are expected to activate their body cameras, when they can be turned off and whether citizens need to be informed they're being recorded.

The city is asking for feedback on the 10-page document as it prepares to equip officers with body cams beginning next month.

“We anticipate this document being updated often based on feedback received and lessons learned,” City Manager Black said in a statement.

TIMELINE: Embracing body cams in Cincinnati

Demand for body cameras increased last summer, after the shooting death of Sam DuBose by now-former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters cited the video as instrumental in the grand jury's arrival at a murder indictment against Tensing, who has pleaded not guilty.

Cincinnati police leaders plan a phased rollout of body cams, starting Aug. 1 with the Central Business District, Special Events, Traffic, Gang and K-9 units. The department plans to order TASER's Axon Body 2 model cameras. The TASER brand was chosen of the 12 bids CPD received.

According to the policy released Tuesday, officers are expected to activate their body cams, at a minimum:

  • during all calls for service and self-initiated activities
  • while responding to calls for service in “emergency” mode (lights & siren activated)
  • during the entirety of traffic pursuits and foot pursuits
  • at traffic stops, including the investigation of a vehicle and occupants already stopped or parked
  • when assisting other officers on any call for service or self-initiated activity
  • at all requests for consent to search without a warrant, including searches of persons, buildings, or vehicles
  • during requests for searches and deployments of drug-detection canines involving vehicles, when practical
  • while someone is being physically arrested and being transported in any department vehicle to any location

Officers also can activate their body cam if they think recording a situation may have "evidentiary value."

The current policy says officers shouldn't record confidential informants or undercover officers; during routine work not involving enforcement, in places like restrooms or locker rooms where someone would expect privacy, or in detention centers or hospitals. There are, of course, exceptions, like if an officer chases a suspect into a restroom or hospital.


Officers also aren't required to tell citizens they're being recorded because, the police department says, there's no reasonable expectation of privacy during personal contact between a person and an officer. The department had already discussed its plan to retain all footage for 90 days unless it's flagged to be kept longer as evidence.

City spokesman Rocky Merz said there's no set end date to take the four-question survey.

"These will continued to be modified often," he said.