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APD’s New Lapel Camera Policy

APD’s New Lapel Camera Policy

Will increased lapel camera usage help officers or distract them from performing their duties?

Newly Added Standard Operating Procedure Begins Trial Period

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

The Albuquerque Police Department has a new lapel camera policy that requires all uniformed department personnel to wear body cameras and to record certain types of contacts with citizens.

The policy, known as Standard Operating Procedure 1-39, calls for the mandatory recording of eight types of incidents, including all use-of-force encounters, traffic stops, arrests, search warrants of buildings, vehicle searches and contacts with people known to have a mental illness.

The SOP became effective March 31, and expires on September 27, when it will be reviewed.

The policy seeks to gain public trust that incidents will be recorded, and allay the fears of police officers that everything they say and do while on duty will be recorded. For instance, non-recordable instances include “personal activities or private conversations of department personnel that do not involve calls for service or contact with individuals,” conversations between officers about case strategy or tacticsm and places where officers would expect privacy like locker rooms, restrooms and hospitals.

Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Shaun Willoughby said that, while the new policy is a good start, cops need more discretion, not less, as when to turn on their cameras.

“I think it’s better than the policy we’re coming from, but officers need to have more discretion than the policy allows,” Willoughby said. “When things happen in police work, they happen fast. I don’t want officers worrying about their cameras when they should be dealing with a threat.

“There are far more questions with regard to the legalities of citizens’ rights than there are answers, and those will have to be addressed by the [U.S.] Supreme Court.”

The new policy says that officers “shall not stop recording in response to an individual’s request if the recording is required by this policy.” It also says that cops are responsible for ensuring that their cameras are working properly before beginning their shifts.

Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

(Photo credit: krqe.com)

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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  • Pete Dinelli
    April 7, 2016, 9:43 am

    Reliable sources are saying that Chief Gordon Eden and two APD officers he was with were the ones who pulled over the suspect’s car in that murder of the two brothers at a restaurant on Monday in the mid-heights and witnessed the suspect commit suicide. Sources say Chief Eden and the two officers he was with were supposedly having lunch and heard the call come in over the radios they carry and decided to respond to the call. The problem is that Chief Eden and the other two officers may not have been wearing “body cameras” or may not have turned them on in violation of APD’s policy on body camera’s. According to the new APD policy, all traffic stops by sworn police officers must be video recorded. This is the policy Chief Eden has disciplined and even fired police officers over for violating. You got to wonder if APD will confirm if Chief Eden was wearing a body camera, and if so did the Chief turn it on and is there video, and if he did not turn it on, will Mayor Berry take any personnel action against Chief Eden? This is like when then Chief Ray Schultz was tooling around on a “segway” during the state fair parade and made an arrest, but was not wearing his body camera. It seems to be always a “do what I say, not as I do” policy with APD top brass and the “rank and file”.

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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.

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