Commitment to Professionalism
The Davidson Police Department is committed to being a professional law enforcement agency. This means our style of policing is community-oriented and includes a problem solving approach to quality of life, crime prevention, and law enforcement issues.
Currently, all Davidson police cruisers are equipped with state-of-the-art, in-car video systems. They record digitally and automatically download to a secured server located in the evidence and property room. Our officers wanted to take this a step further with body-worn cameras. This is a mark of a professional agency. We are not afraid to capture what we see and say in the course of our daily work.
Since September 2014, Davidson police officers have started their shifts by donning small, weatherproof body-worn cameras (BWC) prior to going out on patrol. Recordings are secure and can only be removed by a download procedure that uses the same server as the in-car system.
The implementation and use of BWCs raise important questions about professional policing, transparency, privacy, and trust. Our officers' conduct in how they speak to and treat citizens is critically important. Agencies using BWCs report that the conduct of both their officers and citizens is improved when everyone is aware that the interaction is being recorded. There is a negative side to this. The fact that officers and the public feel the need to record every interaction speaks to a lower level of trust and partnership — something that our agency has worked hard to develop and keep.
Which types of incidents will be recorded? Officers must activate their BWCs during any field contact. That includes:
- Calls involving emotionally or mentally disturbed subjects
- Calls where the offense involves weapons or violence
- Disturbances or disorders
- Suspicious vehicles or persons
- Traffic stops
- Voluntary contacts of an investigative nature
Public Record Policies
What types of incidents will be a matter of public record? That is of some concern to us, as we are committed to being transparent. In North Carolina, if a piece of video is evidence in a criminal investigation, it cannot be released to the public. If in-car or body-worn camera video involves a disciplinary issue involving an officer, it cannot be released to the public because it is considered a “personnel matter.”
In an October 2014 editorial in the Charlotte Observer regarding these prohibitions, they opined: “It’s bad policy. And if state law needs to change to erase any doubt of the right to public access, change the law.”
Our policy governing the use of body-worn cameras is now available if you would like to read it in its entirety. There will be a formal agency review in mid-November to assess our collective experiences and see if the policy and/or procedures for BWC use should be altered. The public is invited to submit comments and concerns to the Police Department by email.
Benefits of Body-Worn Cameras
In the meantime, officers are reporting every day on the successes, challenges, and concerns that body-worn cameras create. The Davidson Police Department wants this new technology to enhance and improve our relationship with you. Effective policing is achieved through strong partnerships with you, our citizens. Public trust is fundamental to that partnership. Help us continue to make and keep Davidson a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.