There was a recent article published in Politico New York that attributes a comment to Mr. Philip Eure, the Department of Investigation’s Inspector General for NYPD, regarding review of body camera footage by an officer involved in a shooting. The article states that Mr. Eure said a pre-viewing statement enables investigators to test not the officer’s memory, but rather his or her integrity. In “Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: Recommendations and Lessons Learned”, there is discussion of this issue beginning on page 29. PERF recommends officers be allowed to review their video prior to making a statement but that sentiment wasn’t universal.
No other technology in the history of policing has been deployed so rapidly, so extensively, and in such a controversial environment as body-worn cameras. This presents a myriad of challenges for police agencies, regardless of size, and those that lead them. The issue of officer review of video after a shooting is one of these challenges. There is no single solution that fits all agencies or communities but leaders, both law enforcement and civilian, must tread lightly here for much is at stake. The unintended consequences of a non-objective decision by an agency, or supporting government, on this issue could significantly impact both the police and the communities they serve.