Comprehensive Body-Worn Camera Training Determines Success

When it comes to guaranteeing the success of your Body-Worn Camera (BWC) program, there is no better way than training. If done right, everyone from law enforcement to the public will reap the rewards.

Body-Worn Camera Training Program: Four Fundamentals

There are four areas that must be included in your BWC officer training according to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). These should also be addressed in a hard-copy BWC training manual given to all agency personnel and be available digitally.

Body-Worn Gear Guidelines:
Start with a walkthrough of the systems’ hardware components. Demonstrate for the officers who will be using the BWC how to turn it on and off, where they should be wearing it and how to connect it to the docking station so it can charge. If you have a Getac Video Solution BWC, show them how to use the category wheel to sort their footage. Make sure to discuss where the BWC will be stored and your department’s check-out system.

Pre-Shift Inspection:
To make sure the equipment is always working, walk the officers through a pre-shift inspection. Demonstrate the steps they will take each day prior to their shift. Remember to address what they should do, or whom they should talk to, if the gear isn’t in top working order.

Departmental Body-Worn Camera Policy:
Departments have different policies for their BWC based on local ordinances and state laws. Make sure officers know your department’s policies. Take your time going through those policies and recording protocols so there is no question in your officers’ minds what to do when they are in the field. Be sure to address when their body-worn technology should be activated and deactivated, and when recording is required, discretionary and prohibited. 

Documentation/Evidence Storage:
Officers will be gathering hours of audio, video and data with the BWC. Discussing how to use that information for incident reports and evidence collection should be included in the training. Additionally, walk through the steps for downloading, tagging and storing the data. Are officers responsible for downloading their own footage to the server or cloud, or is there someone else responsible? How can officers protect data and evidence from tampering? How do they guarantee the chain-of-custody isn’t broken for evidence?

First-time body camera training should also address the perceptions law enforcement may have about the BWC. Training should reassure officers the “primary purpose of cameras is for evidence collection and officer safety,” says the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

Body-Worn Camera Training Program: In the Field

While much of the fundamental training must happen in a classroom or roll-call setting, once you’ve gone over the basics, it’s imperative to relocate to the field. Integrating BWCs into simulation, range or field-based trainings increases muscle memory and reduces officer stress-induced failure to activate BWC. Additionally, it allows officers to practice using their policy knowledge so there is no confusion in real situations.

“This [field] training will provide the agencies with a more realistic understanding of the information that BWC footage can provide,” said presenters at the 2018 Body-Worn Camera Training and Technical Assistance National Meeting. Managing expectations is helpful not only for law enforcement officers but also to help “properly educate their communities and manage public expectations.”

Once the initial officer body camera training has occurred, agencies should embed Body-Worn Cameras in all other trainings.

Comprehensive Police Body-Worn Camera Training Plan

Law enforcement officers collect the audio and video on the BWC, but a comprehensive training plan ensures everyone interacting with the footage is knowledgeable in their role. “An often overlooked but critical factor in the implementation and sustainment of an effective BWC program is educating and training parties outside the law enforcement agency,” according to the BJA.

The Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) recommends training “all agency personnel who make use or otherwise be involved with Body-Worn Cameras … [including] supervisors whose officers wear cameras, records management personnel, training personnel, Internal Affairs, etc.” Additionally, collaboration with the legal stakeholders such as the prosecutor’s office, public defender and city attorney, may also be beneficial.

Another population to consider is the public. Supplying information locally to citizens, civil rights/advocacy groups and community leaders about your new law enforcement technology program may improve outcomes with the community, according to the BJA.

Creating specific training for each stakeholder role with “unique content, approaches, and delivery methods,” allows everyone to be competent and confident with the BWC program. “Scenario-based exercises, data management procedures, and how to present video evidence in court,” are just a few of the different training approaches COPS recommends.

Additional Officer Body-Worn Camera Training Best Practices

According to the DOJ, “refresher courses on BWC usage and protocols [are required] at least once per year.” Those re-certification trainings should take between 4-6 hours, said presenters at the 2018 Body-Worn Camera Training and Technical Assistance National Meeting.

In between those yearly courses, agencies should check for any updates to the equipment or storage. Command should also keep an eye out for new legislation, and watch for challenges they, or other departments, are facing, and update their BWC policies accordingly.

Did you know Getac Video trains the trainers with these best practices? Contact us today with training questions or to learn more about how we can help automate and implement your successful BWC program.