ACLU of Maine Responds to South Portland Body Camera Guidelines

Acquiring Equipment is Positive Step, but Use Must be Accompanied by Good Policy

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
January 18, 2017 11:45 am

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PORTLAND, Maine – The ACLU of Maine today sent a letter to the South Portland Police Department (SPPD) outlining recommended changes to the Department’s new policy regarding body worn cameras (BWCs) and mobile audio/visual recording (MVR) equipment.

“Recording equipment can be a valuable tool for building trust between the police and the communities they serve, but only if strong policies are in place to protect privacy and due process,” said Jamesa Drake, staff attorney with the ACLU of Maine. “We are pleased the Department has taken the first step, and now we are watching to ensure the program is implemented in the best possible way.”

The SPPD announced last week that it has acquired BWC and MVR equipment, which it plans to put into use soon. The policy guiding this use was posted on the Department’s website.

The ACLU of Maine made several policy recommendations in its letter, including:

  • require that officers activate and use the BWC/MVR equipment at the inception of any response, and for the duration of any call for service;
  • specify the criteria that a supervisor must utilize when deciding whether BWC/MVR recording is required;
  • delay officer review of recordings until after an initial incident report has been made; and
  • make clear that recordings of use-of-force or questionable police behavior are of the highest public importance, and should not be withheld from the public view.

The ACLU has studied effective body camera policy across the country, most recently releasing a white paper and model policy for use by police departments.

The full text of the letter to SPPD is here:

The ACLU white paper and model policy are here:

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