Police Department Outfitted with Body Cameras
News from Shawnee
Police Department Outfitted with Body Cameras

It is the policy of the Shawnee Police Department for officers to activate and utilize body worn cameras when appropriate for the proper performance of the officer's official duties, and in accordance with the law. Officers will initiate a recording when engaged in contacts with the public, which includes self initiated activities and other calls for service, whether an emergency or not. Once a body worn camera is activated, the device is not turned off until the incident has reached a conclusion. The only exception to this is under circumstances of private conversations surrounding an investigation. In these situations, the officer shall state prior to turning the camera off that it is intentionally being deactivated, and the reason why. Required training is completed by each officer to ensure proper use of the cameras.

All data, images, video and metadata captured, or otherwise produced by the department, is the sole property of the Shawnee Police Department. Pursuant to Senate Bill No. 22 passed by the Kansas Legislature and effective July 1, 2016, every audio or video recording made and retained by law enforcement using a body worn camera, or vehicle camera, shall be considered a "criminal investigation record" as defined by the Kansas Open Records Act. These files can only be disseminated through a court system and will be handled in the same manner as common evidence such as fingerprints, DNA, etc. The files will be stored on an in-house digital storage server, and any accessing, copying, or releasing of the files for non-law enforcement purposes is strictly prohibited. Department policy is modeled after the International Association of Chiefs of Police guidelines, however; policies of this nature continue to be a work in progress as we learn the benefits and limitations of new technology.

It is impossible to answer all questions associated with a body worn camera program in this article, and we understand the potential interest the community may have. As such, the police department has established an email account for the purpose of public interaction on this topic. If you have question about the body worn camera program at the Shawnee Police Department, we encourage you to email us at bodyworncameras@cityofshawnee.org. Responses will be made in a timely manner, and we continue to explore additional avenues for ongoing, interactive communications about our program. Thank you for taking an interest in your police department's body worn camera program.