(Washington, DC) – The District of Columbia’s Police Complaints Board (PCB), the governing body of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), today submitted a report to Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy L. Lanier recommending ways to ensure MPD develops an effective on-body camera program for the District.
OPC receives and investigates complaints from the public alleging that MPD officers have engaged in police misconduct. Body-worn cameras can be used to resolve many of these types of citizen complaints and to train officers on proper police procedures. In addition, the presence of body-worn cameras on officers may even help to prevent some negative police-citizen interactions.
To maximize the many benefits of MPD officers wearing cameras, and to address concerns that may arise from the public, PCB proposes that MPD seek input from key District stakeholders by establishing an advisory panel. As a result, the Department can ensure that a comprehensive policy governing video creation, access, usage, and retention is developed and implemented in an appropriate manner.
PCB recommends that the advisory panel include, at a minimum, participants from OPC, MPD, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, the District’s Office of the Attorney General, representatives of the criminal defense bar, the American Civil Liberties Union, and members of the Fair and Inclusive Policing Task Force. The panel should also include members of MPD’s Citizen Advisory Councils and representatives from groups who may be underreporting police misconduct, including immigrants, non-English speakers, crime victims, and the LGBTQ population.
The Board further recommends that the District provide MPD with funding to conduct the program. In the event that MPD decides to launch a body-worn camera pilot program before establishing an advisory panel, the Department should be allowed to do so, but should permit OPC to provide real-time input and feedback as the expedited pilot program takes shape and is implemented.
MPD should then use the proposed panel to help develop a final policy while assessing the ongoing pilot program.
PCB further proposes that the panel should evaluate the pilot program’s effectiveness, while identifying any issues and recommending improvements. If MPD and the panel determine the pilot program to be beneficial, PCB proposes that the District government provide funding for wider implementation.
“Police wearing on-body cameras should produce a number of advantages,” said Philip K. Eure, OPC’s executive director. “With the public’s involvement in developing the program, the use of body-worn cameras can lead to better police-community relations, improve officer training, and ultimately enhance public safety.”
To view a full copy of PCB’s full report and recommendations on body-worn cameras, visit website at www.policecomplaints.dc.gov.