Service Before Self, Honor Above All

Police Body-Worn Cameras :: Commonly Asked Questions

1. What is a body camera?

The body-worn camera is a small, battery-operated lens worn on the police officer’s uniform. The device is designed to capture audio and video. Body cameras are viewed as an additional layer of safety and protection for both the officer and the public.

2. Why is the Arlington Police Department participating in this program?

Arlington has established a Body-Worn Camera program to accomplish several objectives. One objective is to provide additional evidence related to criminal prosecutions.  Body-worn cameras will also serve to support testimony in court. Video will provide additional information for officer evaluations and training as well. The Arlington Police Department has developed a policy that provides its employees with instructions on when and how to use the body worn camera so that they may reliably record their contacts with the public in accordance with the law. To view the policy, click here.

3. How is the body-worn camera program being funded?

The Arlington Police Department received a $225,000 grant from the Office of the Governor and the Arlington City Council authorized $2.2 million for the purchase of body cameras. Over 600 officers from the rank of Lieutenant and below are being issued body-worn cameras throughout the implementation phase. These funds also cover the expenses associated with storage, training and program oversight. It is estimated that the City could spend an average of $2 million annually to maintain the program. The City of Arlington has purchased the cameras and is currently training and deploying this technology.

4. When will a police officer begin recording?

When safe to do so, officers will activate their cameras during calls for service and law enforcement-related activities such as a traffic stop, pedestrian interaction, investigation, interview, arrest, search, use of force, critical incident, pursuit or any encounter with the public that becomes confrontational after initial contact.

5. Can an officer record video inside of my home or apartment?

In private locations such as a home, an officer will not activate the body camera unless the recording is part of an ongoing investigation or police action that resulted from a 9-1-1 call for service. Recording inside of a place of residence is permitted if an officer observes an offense or when executing an arrest or search warrant. If the recording is only intended to capture an interview with a victim of a crime and the victim requests the deactivation of the camera, the officer may elect to discontinue recording.

6. Does an officer have the ability to stop recording?

According to state law, if a police officer fails to activate the body camera, fails to record the entire interaction, or interrupts the recording, the officer is required to document why a recording was not made, interrupted or terminated. If the officer stops recording, the reasoning and circumstances should be recorded on the camera and documented in a written report.

7. Will officers receive training to ensure proper use of their body cam?

Every police officer who is issued a body camera and every police department employee and supervisor who works with the Body-Worn Camera Program is required to complete an agency-approved training course on the proper use and operation of the body camera. Additional training will be scheduled at periodic intervals to ensure the continued effective use and operation of body cameras.

8. Can I obtain a copy of video recorded from inside a home or on a traffic stop?

Video recorded in a private place or involving a fine only misdemeanor, which did not result in arrest, is releasable only with proper authorization. The written request must include authorization from the person who is the subject of that portion of the video or an authorized representative if the individual is deceased. For more information about what is releasable, refer to Question #10.

9. How long will the department store video?

The retention period for video depends on the type of incident. Video files will be securely stored in accordance with state records retention laws.  Non-evidentiary video and audio recordings will be kept for at least 90 days .

10. What types of video recordings are not releasable to the public?

Only video recordings which can be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution are subject to the Public Information Act. In accordance with the Public Information Act, there are some restrictions on the release of video recordings. A few of the circumstances include video related to a juvenile suspected of criminal activity, an incident involving child abuse or sexual assault and videos containing private medical information. Body camera footage related to the use of deadly force by a police officer or associated with an administrative or criminal investigation of an officer may not be released until all administrative investigations are concluded and the criminal matter has been finally adjudicated unless it is determined that the release advances a law enforcement purpose. Additionally, videos related to a pending criminal matter may be withheld to prevent interference with the investigation and/or prosecution.

11. How do I request a copy of a video recording?

To request a copy of video maintained by the Arlington Police Department,  complete an Open Records Request and submit it to the Arlington Police Department. When requesting body-worn camera video, be sure to provide us with the date and approximate time of the recording, location where the recording occurred and the name or names of one or more persons known to be in the recording. Click here to access the City of Arlington Open Records Request web page.