New police oversight recommendations for APD camera guidelines

The published recommendations follow resolutions passed in June 2020 that aim to limit or reduce the use of force by police.

AUSTIN, Texas — Changes could come the way Austin Police Department handles body worn cameras and dashboard cameras. On Thursday the Office of Police Supervision released a report with final recommendations for the department’s camera policies.

The published recommendations come after the city passed ordinances in June 2020, which aimed to limit or reduce the use of force by police. The Board of Inspectors conducted a three-phase process to reshape and direct law enforcement in Austin.

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In January 2022, the Office conducted its first phase: examining alignment of APD’s use of the cameras and best practices.

Phase two began shortly thereafter in February 2022. During phase two, the office began reaching out to the community to get feedback on what Austin residents thought of the current policy.

In April 2022, the office began its final phase of policy rewrites with feedback from the community and research from various city police departments across the country.

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The Office of Police Oversight has provided APD with 17 new recommendations to help it better serve the community and meet city expectations:

  1. Solicit and use public feedback when writing and developing policies for body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras.
  2. Update the purpose of cameras to align with the city’s goals of “reducing racial profiling, reducing the use of violence, improving community relationships, and making it clear that these cameras have a role in supporting these… efforts can play”.
  3. Clarify the law when the law is unclear.
  4. OPO recommends APD revise guidelines on when officers must start and stop recording audio and video.
  5. APD should require officers to confirm camera footage in police reports.
  6. Instruct officers on how to notify civilians that their interaction is being recorded.
  7. Ask supervisors to ensure cameras are in good working order.
  8. Prompt investigation of camera violations.
  9. Work with OPO to develop a formal process to incorporate community feedback into policies
  10. Work with OPO to build a participatory process that accommodates multiple mediums and formats to balance large-scale, community-wide outreach with targeted outreach aimed at those experienced and most familiar with policing in Austin and the specific policies under review.
  11. Dedicate resources to gather community feedback for future policies.
  12. Publish a schedule of planned changes to the current General Orders and update as needed.
  13. Provide public information about the source of APD policies.
  14. Post and explain any policy change.
  15. Make policies accessible to people with disabilities or communication barriers.
  16. Rethink the role vendors play in the policy-making process.
  17. Discuss changes resulting from these recommendations with OPO and identify “the processes and resources required to respond to them”.

For more information on the findings and recommendations from the regulator, see

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Laura Coffey

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