Body Worn Cameras in Albany

November 3, 2017: Please click BWC to view the Albany Police Department’s Body Worn Camera policy. Today, Acting Albany Police Chief Robert Sears held a media availability with the press to announce that on Monday, November 6, 2017, officers will begin wearing body worn cameras in Albany. He also announced that after a lengthy and methodical pilot program in which 20 volunteer officers tested cameras from four different body worn camera vendors, the Albany Police Department has chosen the Axon Body 2 body worn camera for use at the APD. Please click Albany Police Community Notification 17-154(1) to view today’s community notification.


May 15, 2017: Please click BWCDraft to see the most up-to-date DRAFT of the body worn camera policy. For several month, members of the Albany Police Department have been working with community stakeholders to draft the attached policy. To learn more about the policy and updates about the body worn camera program in Albany, please attend the Albany Community Policing Advisory Committee’s Community Forum on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 from 6-8 PM at the Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue.

Please review the policy and feel free to leave comments or feedback by clicking the “Leave a Comment” tab.

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September 28, 2016: Beginning on Monday, October 3, 2016, 20 Albany police officers will begin piloting body worn cameras from four different vendors to aid the committee in determining which vendor will best meet the needs of the police department and our community.

Two of the vendors will be delivering equipment and set up the back-end infrastructure this week. The 20 officers will begin testing the cameras on a rotating basis. The officers, will be split into two groups of 10 officers each and test one of the two vendor’s cameras for three weeks. After three weeks, the groups will switch cameras for another three weeks of testing. Once the other two of the four vendors delivers their cameras, the same process above will commence until officers have had the opportunity to pilot cameras from all four vendors.

We’re reminding the members of the community that the DRAFT BODY WORN CAMERA POLICY is below and requesting that members of the community to please review and provide any recommendations: Body Worn Camera Draft Policy

This is a draft.  Once a specific camera vendor is chosen, the other aspects of the policy will be developed with further public input.

Please utilize the “Leave a Comment” tab to the left to provide feedback.

Thank you.

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15 thoughts on “Body Worn Cameras in Albany

  1. I think the cameras are a great idea, to protect the Officers from false charges of abuse to people causing issues with Police .the job of Police is dangerous enough with out needing to worry about the problems they face with the unruly public. I am all for the safety of our officers trying to keep us all safe . Thank you APD

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  2. Bob Port says:

    I read this draft policy. I think it is a very well done piece of work. And I appreciate the APD publishing on this web site inviting comment. Obviously, a lot of thought went into this. You folks are good. I cannot add any suggestions. I’m particularly impressed with the thought put into what not to tape or archive. I guess my general reaction is why do we even want to go here? Body cameras, with all the checks and servers and gear and behaviors and cost involved? I’ve always felt that basic trust of police officers is the ultimate goal. And trust can be earned. That’s a challenge, but APD does okay. I also note that this policy reserves to the chief any decision when it becomes public, as in response to a FOIL request. That is probably wise because get ready, APD, if you deploy body cams. You’re gonna be FOILed constantly for all sorts of good and bad reasons. You’ll maybe have to hire a full-time lawyer just to deal with that, alone. Many of the criteria for withholding or not storing video listed here go a bit further than the state FOI law provides exemptions. Oh well, you could just sand bag people and pay lawyers to stave them off. Local judges will generally back you up. In the end, this is, I think, a symbolically important move to reinvigorate trust within the community. But I am so sad that it has come to this — videotaping everything that police do. I, for one, do not believe that should be necessary and I think it is too expensive. I don’t want my police officers to have cameras strapped to their bodies. I just want them to be professional, honest and helpful.

    Bob Port
    Former Senior Editor/Investigations
    Albany Times Union
    (202) 615-0204

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I heard this was going to cost the City 3 millions dollars annually to maintain with FOIL and infrastructure. With 12-15 million dollar budget deficits annually and he landfill closing soon, how are we supposed to afford this on an already stretched thin budget for the police department? That money could be better spent putting more officers on the street, which would truly make us all safer. Body cameras do nothing to increase public safety.

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    • D/C Sears says:

      We don’t quite yet know how much the entire project is going to cost. We hope to have a better idea once we start sitting down with vendors. When more information on cost becomes available, we will update this website.

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  4. IT’s a shame that this equiptment needs to be so costly to the city , all i know is you hear people blaming APD for the issues that happen and someone dies , Police need to go to work and feel safe that they will go home after a 8 hr shift , what ever they decide to do here , lets just keep our fine Officer safe on the job , it is a human right

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  5. anonymous says:

    I understand wanting to draft a policy without a specific vendor in mind in order to not be limited, but I think a potential issue with feedback is that members of the public are not entirely aware of the range of vendor capabilities. Aspects of the policy will have to be shaped and tailored to the abilities of a vendor, but we don’t know what is commonly available or what might be possible. It is not easy to find time to do the research of what services for capture/storage/access/review are possible. Perhaps if a list of capabilities could be provided to the public that different vendors offer we can better comment in a more informed manner on which aspects we view as most important.

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  6. Kevin says:

    There is no mention of re-training or re-certification with BWCs. How often will officers go through this training and what type of events will trigger an automatic re-training? Suggestion should required at be least yearly and upon promotion or movement within rank. Any proposal from an outside bidder for this contract should describe plans for re-training in use of this equipment. Records of certification for all officers should be available to the public upon request and should be produced within 10 business days of request.

    Additionally, 120 days (or 4 months) is a very short period of time to keep records. Suggestion would be to change this to 12 months and in the name of transparency, records should be made available upon request by the public.

    Lastly, Section 5.D ‘prior approval by chief of police’ stipulation should be eliminated as the opening policy on page 1 states and highlights the word ‘transparency’ – Section 5.D is in direct opposition of transparency.

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  7. Christine says:

    I agree with Kevin’s above points, particularly that digital records should be held longer and there should be training/re-training requirements.

    I’m a little concerned that Section III-B-5 states BWC’s shall not to be utilized for routine patrol, but Section III-A-4 talks about situations (like a street encounter) that could occur during a routine patrol. In the heat of a moment, will the officer always remember to/have time to turn on the BWC prior to engaging an individual in these types of situations? Perhaps something that needs to be addressed in training, but it just seems contradictory to me.

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  8. Edward Mack says:

    Would agree with extending records retention comments.The procedures& policies sound good but their implementation is the key.The APD is ,like all other police agencies, human and unable to “police” itself.Got to have a civilian participation in decision-making.(How about a Law School Prof or retired judge?)

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  9. Kayla Griffin says:

    Maybe I missed something in the policy but I believe there should be guidelines in place in the case of anything happening to a body camera – like it malfunctioning – especially if there are any complaints involved with whatever it was filming. Someone should be able inspect the body camera and either confirm or deny the officer’s claims about their equipment. I realize this may be a difficult thing to do but at the very least officers should be held accountable if anything preventable happens to their body camera while on duty. The loss of footage would be a problem for both the department and the public.

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  10. Biggest issue i see so far on you tube, is the camera’s can be blocked or covered if on the chest area. By the Officer’s own doing with arms extended holding a gun. “as seen in you tube videos”. You wont be able to see everything they way it NEEDS to be seen. I suggest over the right shoulder for Officers that are driving avoiding any seat belt hassle. Right shoulder for His/Her partner. All should be streaming LIVE feed to the station. With One or two people on Monitor duty.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    There needs to be more regulation regarding when the cameras are “on” not simply that the BWC must be worn. How are they activated? By voice? Or by a physical action?

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  12. I feel the draft policy is almost perfect as is.

    I feel that body camera footage and related records should be exempt fron FOIA requests. Whatever goes on with this, it’s none of our business.

    I do like the procedure for testing cameras from each vendor. It makes the bidding procedure fair.

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  13. Linda says:

    I’m so glad that these body cameras will now be used to support our officers. As far as body location, they should be used in whatever way will produce the most accurate presentation of circumstances as they transpire. I assume this will be determined during testing. Recordings should be utilized for training purposes and for investigations. Should there be an arrest and/or community complaints the recording can be shown on the news as determined by the police. Even with transparency, someone in charge has to be the decision-maker. I don’t think the recording of events should be open to any and all individuals who want to see them. There are often folks on tapes who would wish their privacy to be respected.

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  14. anonymous says:

    Check typo Section VI(B). Is the retention standard 120 days or 180 days?

    Also, members of the public should be able to request that specific audio/video files be preserved. Specific encounters may have value that would otherwise be unrecognized by APD officers/personnel.

    Also, policy should require that an officer activate their BWC at the request of citizen during an encounter.

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