ACLU takes issues with Cincinnati Body cam policy

ACLU has issues with CPD body cam policy (VIDEO)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The ACLU of Ohio thinks the proposed Body Worn Camera Program guidelines announced by Cincinnati police needs improving.

In a memo released Tuesday by City Manager Harry Black, the public was asked to weigh in on the policy. FOX19 NOW contacted the ACLU of Ohio for their response.

Gary Daniels, the chief lobbyist for the Ohio chapter located in Cleveland said the policy is filled with "low hanging fruit."

First, the two sides agree with the amount of time recommended with storage of non-essential material or records not categorized for retention.

After 90 days, the policy calls for the non-essential material to be deleted.

"If you keep all the records for a long time you're making it cost prohibitive for law enforcement to have body cameras," said Daniels.

As far as the policy is concerned, that's about where the agreement ends.

The policy, known as the BWC, recommends for certain investigative cases like citizen complaints or Use of force, those videos be held for two years.

Daniels said the ACLU of Ohio believes those videos need a cushion and should be held for a minimum of three years.

The BWC also states that officers will not have to inform a person they are being recorded. The document explains why officers won't have to tell inform you that you are being recorded. It reads in part,  "the personal contact between an individual and an officer does not constitute an environment where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy."

Daniels feels this part of the policy is  "short sided."

"If a person is not aware for instance that Cincinnati is using body cameras, They might say something that would get themselves in trouble that they otherwise might not say," he said.

Daniels argued this part of the policy gets into 5th amendment issues, which is the right to remain silent, that the city may have to deal with.

The policy also states that officers will not record uncover officers or confidential informants. Daniels believes the police doesn't go far enough.

"What it doesn't cover is people on the streets for instance who witnessed a crime or are the victim of a crime. Who, if they know they' re being recorded, might not say something to the particular officer because they are worried about re-crimination, revenge."

He goes on to say, "If someone says something about what they saw their neighbor doing or somebody doing down the street or something like that and doesn't know they are being recorded. We worry about the worst case scenario."

The part that makes "jumps off the page" to Daniels is the public records request regarding people suspected of drunk driving.

It reads, "OVI recorded events will only be released with the approval of the prosecutor."

"The prosecutor does not have the final say, the prosecutor does not have any say. Expect if it's an investigatory record. It raises some eyebrows," he said.

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