The Lexington Police Department requires officers to activate their body-worn camera for all law enforcement contact with citizens, investigative or otherwise, that occur within the performance of an officer’s official duties. These interactions include pedestrian and vehicle stops, calls for service at businesses and homes, and motorist assists.
In 2016 the city approved a $2.6 million, five-year contract with Taser International for police body-worn cameras. The contract covers the cost of cameras and cloud-based video storage. The first shipment of cameras was delivered in late July, and officers began using the devices in August.
Body-worn camera video example
Frequently asked questions
1. What is a body worn camera and where will officers mount it? A body worn camera is a small camera mounted on the uniform of a police officer which will record interactions between law enforcement officers and citizens. The cameras will either be mounted on the collar or glasses of the officer.
2. What is the brand of body worn camera used by Lexington Police? The brand of camera is Axon Flex which is made by Taser International.
3. Will every officer in the police department have a body worn camera? The initial deployment will be to uniformed officers and sergeants in the Bureaus of Patrol and Special Operations. These officers and sergeants are the first responders to calls for service and the most likely to encounter the public.
4. When is an officer required to turn the body worn camera on? With few exceptions officers will be required to record all law enforcement related contacts with the public.
5. Will all police interactions be recorded? What if someone does not want to be recorded? With few exceptions officers will be required to record all law enforcement related contacts with the public. There will be some exceptions, e.g. crime victims, where obtaining the statement from the victim outweighs the need to have the encounter recorded.
6. Why not record the entire shift? There is not a legitimate law enforcement purpose to require an officer to keep a camera on for a full shift. In addition to times the officer may have an expectation of privacy, an officer’s shift includes administrative duties that does not involve contact with a citizen.
7. Are officers required to tell citizens they are being video recorded? Kentucky is considered a one party consent state as it pertains to being recorded. This means that only one person has to be aware that a recording is in progress. That person is generally the recorder.
8. Can an officer record inside a private residence? Yes, under the following circumstances: (1) if there is a valid warrant; (2) consent from the resident; or (3) if there is a legal exception for the police to enter a dwelling. Absent those legal circumstances, if a resident does not consent to entry, officers will not enter the home absent a warrant or exigent circumstances. If consent is given, the body cameras will remain on absent a specific policy exemption.
9. Can anyone edit the video? The original version of the video cannot be edited by anyone, including system administrators. Redacted copies of the videos to blur people/objects, remove audio, and narrow the video to relevant sections can be created by authorized users. The original version the video will remain unchanged.
10. Can anyone delete a video? Videos can be deleted either though an automated retention system based upon the type of incident recorded or manually by a system administrator. Manual deletions will only be done after a criminal case is adjudicated in a court of law or if a recording was accidentally made in a location restricted by policy, such as a restroom. Manual deletions of accidental recordings will require command staff approval and the documentation of that decision will be kept on file.
11. How long will the videos be retained? Non-evidential videos will be retained based upon the current Kentucky Records Retention Schedule. Evidential videos will be retained until the criminal case is adjudicated in a court of law or the statute of limitations has passed.
12. Who can obtain a copy of the body worn camera video? The release of recordings to any person shall be made in accordance with current department policy and procedures, and pursuant to requirements of applicable law, including but not limited to the Kentucky Open Records Act.
13. Why shouldn’t all video recorded by police by made available to the public? One of the most critical issues for people interacting with police is privacy. People often need to seek police assistance when they are going through difficult personal challenges. Certain groups of citizens have strong specific privacy protections – particularly juveniles. Victims also have privacy protections in the law, in particular to protect them from the offender. The FOIA law for law enforcement records was developed for paper documents and never contemplated the complexities of protecting privacy in video and audio recording.
14. How does the BWC program increase police accountability if the public cannot see the videos? Videos will increase accountability by recording interactions from start to finish and being available to those involved in the incident, partners in the criminal and civil justice system, and any government agency that investigate the police.
15. Does the department have plans to use facial recognition technology with the video from the body cameras? The department does not have any current plans to use facial recognition technology in connection with body camera video
The Lexington Police Department consulted with several law enforcement agencies and community organizations—including the NAACP, Lexington Human Rights Commission, American Civil Liberties Union, Commonwealth’s Attorney and County Attorney—to develop the body-worn camera policy.