Body Worn Cameras — Don’t believe the rumors!

Doug Griffith

There are a lot of rumors regarding officers being disciplined over what is seen on the BWC’s.  Like most of us already know, we are on video almost everywhere we go, but with the BWC we now get a full view of an incident instead of a 10-second.

There are incidents that are captured on the BWC that are problematic for officers and we have had one officer indicted over the BWC video of a tasering incident.

These cameras have shown to be a very big benefit to most HPD officers as they prove that we are doing things right.  Understand that these cameras are not going away. Across the country they are being implemented and are here to stay.

And the fact is that they are helping officers at an increasing rate. Look at the recent shooting in Chicago where there was immediate protest.  Without the BWC video of that incident there would have been rioting in the streets over this incident. (like they don’t have enough problems already!)

In the last 12 months here in Houston, every officer-involved shooting has been captured on camera except for two and it has proven each and every time that the officers only did what the suspect’s actions forced them to do. Almost every complaint regarding use of force has been exonerated due to the BWC videos.

Why? Because our officers are doing it right.

I sit on the Administrative Discipline Committee and can say first-hand that these videos are saving officers.  We have worked with the department to get a few things corrected and continue to work regarding the policy and discipline for infractions. The department is now clearing out cases in which the BWC video proves that the officer did not commit the infraction and it is being done without any letters being written.

We now also have the discipline matrix regarding “activation” violations.  Muting violations are being handled as verbal counseling or SI’s. Understand that the police chief himself stated in a command staff meeting that most of the infractions observed on a BWC should be handled with a conversation with the officer – not an investigation.

If any discipline is leveled at an officer that is unwarranted, the Union fights that discipline.  To the chagrin of City Legal, I have spoken at several arbitration hearings and have been successful in getting discipline reduced.

I have also given the BWC class to most of the executive command staff, including Chief Acevedo, who stated that he would wear it when he goes out on patrol.

I will continue to keep the membership updated when we get new information regarding policy changes or issues with discipline regarding the BWC.  Until then, be safe and continue to do the outstanding job that you do.

If you ever have questions regarding the Body Worn Cameras, please feel free to give me a call. Thanks for all you do!