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University of Richmond Police Department

Directives Manual



Number: C-2.9  

 Effective Date: 08/24/2022

Subject: Body Worn Cameras

 Rescinds: Policy dated 08/08/2022


 Approved By: David M. McCoy
                          Chief of Police


  1. Purpose    

    The purpose of this policy is to establish the general guidelines for the use of a body worn camera (BWC) and the management, storage, and retrieval of BWC recordings in accordance with best practices and the law.
  2. Policy   

    It is the policy of the University of Richmond Police Department that officers shall activate the BWC when such use is appropriate to the proper performance of their official duties, and where the activations and recordings are consistent with this policy and the law.  When activating a BWC, officers shall consider both the needs of public safety, privacy, and the constitutional rights of the individual.
  3. Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this Directive. Responsibility rests with the immediate supervisor to ensure any violations of policy are investigated and appropriate training, counseling, and/or disciplinary action is initiated.

This directive is for internal use only, and does not enlarge an employee’s civil liability in any way. It should not be construed as a creation of a higher standard of safety or care in an evidentiary sense, with respect to third party claims. Violation of this Directive, if proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by this department, and then only in a non-judicial administrative setting.

  1. Definitions
    1. Body Worn camera (BWC)- Is an audio and video recording system worn by sworn police officers, which captures encounters and activities from the officer’s perspective. The system consists of the camera and several mounting options. Only the BWC purchased by the department is allowed to be worn while an officer is on duty.
    2. Body Worn Camera Coordinator- Employee designated by the Chief of Police to manage the BWC program.
    3. Digital Evidence- BWC files, including photographs, audio recordings, and video footage captured by a BWC and stored digitally on the camera and system’s server.
    4. Docking Station- Hardware connected to the system’s server designed to download and upload digital evidence from the BWC. The docking station also charges the BWC.
  2. Procedures
    1. This department has adopted the use of the BWC to accomplish several objectives. Primarily:
      1. Ensure that every interaction URPD has meets or exceeds our standards to include:
        1. Treat people with dignity and respect.
        2. Give individuals a “voice” during interactions.
        3. Practice fairness and neutrality in decision-making.
        4. Convey trustworthy motives.
      2. BWC’s allow for additional documentation of police-public contacts, arrests and critical incidents.
      3. The BWC is essential to documenting crime and accident scenes or other events that include, but are not limited to, the confiscation and documentation of evidence or contraband.
      4. Audio and video recordings enhance the agency’s ability to review probable cause for arrest, officer and suspect interaction, evidence for investigative and prosecutorial purposes, and to provide additional information for officer evaluation and training.
    2. Using the BWC
      1. Officers assigned a BWC, including primary, secondary, and any assisting officers, shall start their BWC recordings as soon as they mark on-scene. Officers initiating traffic stops should turn on their camera just prior to activation of emergency equipment.
      2. Recording can be stopped in the situations below. If an officer determines it is appropriate to stop the recording, they should articulate the reason to document why the recording was stopped.
        1. When there are no complainants, victims, or others to interact with during the incident, the video can be stopped once the officer arrives on-scene; or
        2. At the conclusion of the officer’s involvement in an event and marking 10-8 back in service; or
        3. When directed to do so by a supervisor. The officer should document the name of the supervisor who ordered the termination of the recording, and the time the order was given. 
      3. Officers are reminded that their BWC will ‘beep’ twice every two minutes to remind the officer that the camera is activated. Officers should be aware of situations that require the “stealth mode” if their safety may be compromised due to the lights and sounds on the BWC.
      4. Officers shall follow officer safety procedures when conducting enforcement stops, as outlined in department directives. Officer safety remains the primary consideration when contacting citizens or conducting vehicle stops. 
      5. Officers equipped with BWC’s who are on a scene of an incident and are not the primary, or log unit, or responsible for completing an IBR shall inform the officer completing the IBR of their BWC recording(s) so that the reporting officer may record this information in his or her IBR report.
      6. If an individual asks if they are being recorded, officers shall advise whether or not the BWC is active.
      7. If an officer fails to activate the BWC, fails to record the entire contact, or interrupts the recording, the officer shall state why the video is non-existent or incomplete over the radio when clearing from the incident.

Note: If the camera is turned off temporarily as outlined above and before conclusion of the incident, the officer shall narrate on their BWC recording the time, reason and name of the person who requested the interruption or conclusion of the recording. If while the officer has his/her BWC in buffer mode and not recording, the situation changes and he/she becomes involved in citizen contact in reference to the incident, the officer shall immediately restart the BWC recording mode.


Note: Supervisors shall use language similar to the following when requesting officers to stop recording: “As your supervisor, I am directing you that your involvement in the incident has ended and the investigation has begun. At this time, you should turn your camera off.” This is to occur after the supervisor determines that the scene is safe and any outstanding suspect information or threats have been distributed through communications.

      1. BWC equipment is issued primarily to uniform personnel as authorized by the Chief of Police. Officers who are assigned BWC equipment must use the equipment in accordance with this policy.
      2. Police personnel assigned BWC’s must complete a department approved and/or provided training program to ensure proper use and operations. Additional training may be required at periodic intervals to ensure the continued effective use and operation of the equipment, and to incorporate changes, update, or other revisions in policy and equipment.
      3. BWC equipment is the responsibility of the individual officer it is assigned to and will be used with reasonable care to ensure its proper function. Equipment malfunctions shall be brought to the attention of the officer’s supervisor as soon as possible, so that a replacement unit may be procured. In the event the BWC equipment is malfunctioning, in any way, the equipment will immediately be taken out of service and turned into a supervisor. The BWC coordinator shall work to replace the equipment.
      4. Officers shall inspect and test the BWC prior to each shift to verify proper functioning.  Axis BWC should be considered operational if the lights turn yellow when the camera is undocked.  The camera should then restart and after restarting the camera should go to standby-by mode with the green bar illuminating to show power.  Officers shall notify their immediate supervisor of any problems immediately. If the officer’s immediate supervisor is not working the first available supervisor should be contacted.
      5. Officers shall not edit, redact, alter, erase, duplicate, copy, share, or otherwise distribute, nor attempt to do so, in any manner BWC recordings without prior authorization and approval from the Chief of Police, or designee.
      6. An officers BWC may capture an image of a suspect or potential person of interest in a criminal offense or investigation and that image may be determined to be useful for a person of interest or BOLO. In these situations, a supervisor, or designee, may take a screen shot of the officers BWC video using their department issued phone. Once the image has been captured it may be used in the prescribed manner.
      7. Officers are encouraged to inform their immediate supervisor of any recordings that may be of value for training purposes, and properly categorize the recording as training as outlined in this directive.
      8. The department reserves the right to limit or restrict an officer from viewing any video file(s).  
      9. Officers shall note in the IBR when recordings were made during the incident documented by the report. BWC recordings are not a replacement for written reports.
      10. Recording during sensitive situations (sexual assault, mental health, etc.).
        1. Documenting the first moments of arrival to a location using a BWC captures evidence to include spontaneous voluntary statements that can support a victim’s testimony that may develop days or weeks later.
        2. However, once an officer determines that first responders and all the parties at the specific location are safe and free of harm, officers may use reasonable judgement to stop recording. This may occur at the request of a victim/survivor or to help de-escalate and stabilize a person experiencing a mental or emotional health incident.
        3. While in a health care facility, the officer will abide by the patient privacy policies of the health care facility, which could restrict or limit the officer from recording for law enforcement purposes. Officers may stop recording in health care facilities if required by the hospital or for patient privacy.
         C. Restrictions on using the BWC
    1. BWC’s shall only be used for official purposes in conjunction with official law enforcement duties; BWCs shall not be used to record:
      1. Communications with other police personnel without their knowledge during routine, non-enforcement related activities. This may include, but not limited to: roll calls, counseling sessions, meals and routine patrol activities.
      2. Communications involving the law enforcement tactical and strategic policy, procedures, or plans.
      3. Inside of any courthouse unless taking law enforcement action not directly related to the prosecution of the case.
      4. When on break or engaged in personal activities. Officers may power down their BWC when using the restroom to prevent accidental activation.
      5. In any location where officers have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
      6. When asked by medical staff or supervisors.
        D. Storage
  1. Data that is not evidentiary or retained for law enforcement purposes will be retained for 180 days.
  2. Accessing, copying, or releasing files for non-law enforcement purposes is prohibited.
  3. At least on a weekly basis the BWC Coordinator will audit a sample of BWC recordings to ensure the equipment is operating properly and officers are using the devices appropriately in accordance with this directive, and to identify any areas in which additional training is necessary. 
  4. Requests for deletion of portions of the recordings (event of personal recording) must be submitted in writing and approved by the Chief of Police, or the BWC Coordinator, in accordance with state record retention laws. All requests for deletion, and final decisions on deletion, shall be kept on file and processed to completion by the BWC Coordinator.
      E. Supervisory Responsibilities
  1. Supervisors shall ensure that officers equipped with BWC devices utilize them in accordance with this directive.
  2. The BWC Coordinator shall provide support to officers when needed.
  3. Upon receiving notification of any damage or malfunction of a BWC, the supervisor shall remove the unit from service. An email will be sent to the BWC Coordinator.
  4. Supervisors will audit their officers BWC video once a month by watching two videos for each officer (one of which should be evidentiary if one is present), and by comparing the officer’s calls for service that day to the number of BWC videos produced by the officer to ensure that officers are recording all calls for service. The supervisor will complete the supervisors audit form to be reviewed by their immediate supervisor as part of the monthly audit. This audit shall also ensure that the equipment is operating properly and that officers are using the device appropriately in accordance with this directive, and to provide documentation if officers are found out of policy. The reports will be retained by the BWC Coordinator.
  5. If misconduct or a policy violation is captured on BWC and identified during a supervisor’s review/audit, the supervisor shall manage the incident according to D-10.0 Administrative and Citizen Complaint policy under D. 3. b..
         F. Uniform and Maintenance  
  1. Officers assigned a BWC shall wear it while working on duty, or department approved OT.
  2. Officers shall wear the BWC in one of the department-approved methods, utilizing only the mounting options provided by the manufacturer. Officers shall make every effort to ensure the BWC remains in a position that allows the BWC to record an encounter from the officers “point of view.”
  3. Methods to wear the camera
    1. Generally, the camera should be worn on the upper 3rd of an officer’s chest attached to the center of their uniform shirt using a clip or magnet mount. 
    2. In some situations, officers may need to utilize a “cube” camera attachment.  The cube should be attached to the upper 3rd of an officer’s chest in an area to provide an appropriate view of interactions.  The BWC should be attached to the officer’s duty belt.
  4. Officers shall not attempt to repair a BWC suspected of malfunctioning.
        G. Access
  1. The body worn equipment, all digital evidence, all data, images, sounds recorded or otherwise produced by the equipment shall be the exclusive property of the University of Richmond Police Department.
  2. The University of Richmond is a campus police department with a statutory obligation to disclose certain criminal incident information under Va. Code 23.1-817.  
  3. BWC recordings shall not be disseminated nor viewed by individuals outside of the police department without the prior approval of the Chief of Police in consultation with University Counsel. 
  4. All files shall be securely transferred to the system’s server no later than the end of each shift. Each file shall contain information related to the date, BWC identifier, and assigned officer.
  5. All access shall be audited by the BWC Coordinator monthly to ensure that only authorized users are accessing the data for legitimate and authorized purposes.
  6. The preferred technique for transferring recordings from the BWC to the system’s server is by using the dedicated docking station. This technique is preferred as the docking station will automatically upload all of the data recorded on the camera directly to the system.
  7. Administrative or citizen complaints- Any supervisor assigned to investigate a complaint of conduct or other administrative action is authorized to review any video associated with the incident with the involved police officer. In addition, the supervisor may schedule a time for the complainant to respond to the department and view the video as part of the supervisor’s investigation.
  8. Officers will not review the video of any incident involving use of force prior to submitting all necessary use of force documentation, and reports. Immediately after those reports are submitted, the officer will review the video of the incident with his/her supervisor. If there are any discrepancies between the report(s) and the video, the supervisor will provide an explanation in the supervisor’s investigation report.

        H. Access to recordings
  1. Access to all BWC recordings shall be limited to law enforcement or for other department-approved purposes only.
  2. Requests and authorizations to release or review video by individuals or groups outside of URPD (other than the Commonwealth’s Attorney office) shall be completed in writing.  Any written request from groups such as student conduct administrators, Title IX, or other UR departments to release BWC recordings shall be reviewed by the Chief of Police and approved or denied in writing. 
  3. A Commonwealth Attorney may request recordings of an officer’s BWC videos for prosecutorial review and use for potential pretrial discovery, motions or trial. Officers will notify the BWC Coordinator within 48 hours of the request.  The BWC Coordinator shall share all videos containing evidence of an arrest with the appropriate jurisdiction’s C.A.’s Office within seven (7) days of a request. No written request or authorization is needed for this process.
  4. BWC recordings may be released as part of legal process.
         I. Retention
  1. All video files shall be securely stored on the system’s server for at least 180 days and deleted in accordance with the records and retention schedules issued by the Library of Virginia and the University of Richmond.
  2. If a video is reclassified to a different category (non-evidentiary to evidentiary) the video will be subject to deletion based upon the new category and the original date of the recording.
         J. Forms
  1. Supervisor’s audit form