The Jackson Police Department recently announced that it has deployed 60 officers who are now equipped with body-worn cameras (BWCs). While BWCs can serve as a win-win for police departments and the communities they serve, they can only be effective when adopted alongside policies that balance police protection, and citizen privacy. The below statement may be attributed to ACLU of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins:
“At the start of 2018, we released Striking the Right Balance, the only statewide analysis of body-worn camera use by local law enforcement in Mississippi. What we found was that police and sheriff’s departments using body-worn cameras largely failed to ensure the technology was being deployed in a way that promoted transparency and accountability while balancing citizen privacy. At that time, of course, the Jackson Police Department had not acquired BWCs. However, months later, we learned that JPD had plans of purchasing them and we immediately contacted the former (interim) and current police chief to discuss the need for a policy. Unfortunately, that conversation has yet to take place.
“We, therefore, urge the Jackson Police Department to adopt a policy that establishes certain mandatory criteria governing how BWCs are deployed, how long data is kept, who has access to the data collected, and consequences of failure to comply with policy regarding their use.
“We invite the Jackson Police Department and any other local law enforcement agency who already has or may be considering purchasing body-worn cameras to reach out to us so that we can ensure a comprehensive policy is in place.”