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Resolution

Law Enforcement and the Use of Body-Worn Cameras

WHEREAS, the NAACP has always stood against any form of police misconduct and advocated for greater police accountability, as outlined in these resolutions:

  • 1978 – Prosecution of Police and Corrections Officers for Criminal Acts
  • 1978 – Police Brutality
  • 1979 – Police Brutality
  • 1980 – Indiscriminate Use of Firearms by Police
  • 1983 – Police Brutality
  • 1983 – Use of Chokehold by Police
  • 1987 – Police Brutality
  • 1991 – Police Brutality
  • 1992 – Police Brutality
  • 1996 – Excessive Force by Law Enforcement Officers and Police Departments
  • 2007 – Establish Model Standards, Policies and Training to Prevent Police Misconduct and Excessive Use of Force
  • 2010 – Establish Model Standards, Policies and Training to Prevent Police Misconduct and Excessive Use of Force
  • 2013 – Police Misconduct and Abuse in the Performance of Duty
  • 2015 – Police-Community Accountability
  • 2015 – Investigation of Deaths Involving Law Enforcement Officers

WHEREAS, African-Americans and people of color are targeted and racially profiled by law enforcement; and

WHEREAS, the cascade of recent incidents of police misconduct – Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and many others – illustrate the urgent need for immediate reforms that will save lives and restore public confidence in law enforcement; and

WHEREAS, the availability of audio, video, and surveillance evidence of law enforcement interactions with civilians through body cameras, cameras mounted on dashboards of police vehicles, and cameras mounted to guns and tasers can lead to significant improvements in police accountability and trust among a community; and

WHEREAS, as of January 2015, at least 72 law enforcement agencies in the United States have adopted body cameras or established pilot programs for their use and President Obama has announced federal funding to help purchase 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement agencies across the Unites States; and

WHEREAS, if used properly, recording and surveillance devices can help deter law enforcement misconduct and use of force, provide evidence to hold officers accountable when misconduct does occur and to exonerate wrongly accused officers, and help the public understand how law enforcement operates; and

WHEREAS, without carefully crafted policy safeguards in place, there is a real risk that these new devices could become instruments of injustice, rather than tools to further the goal of improved transparency and accountability, better policing, and greater trust in law enforcement; and

WHEREAS, there are no uniform federal or state practices and policies addressing the implementation of recording and surveillance devices by law enforcement.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will support legislation ensuring law enforcement issued audio, visual, and surveillance devices such as vehicle dashboard cameras, body cameras, weapon and taser cameras, etc. to become universal law enforcement equipment; and that sufficient funding be made available for this purpose; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all audio, video, and surveillance recorded on these devices shall be preserved and unedited in a central and secure depository except that portions may be obscured in the interest of protecting the identity of a minor and that any and all recordings shall be promptly made available to the person subject to the stop, prolonged detention or arrest, or to his or her designee or representative; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that law enforcement shall not be permitted to use personal or any other audio, visual, or surveillance device in lieu of law enforcement audio, visual, and surveillance devices and law enforcement personnel must retain these recordings until the matter is dismissed by a judicial officer or the conclusion of the adjudicatory process, the recordings may not be used to secure a conviction in another matter; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that clear and concise compliance policies be established pursuant to which law enforcement officers shall face severe consequences for impermissibly turning off their recording devices or attempting to manipulate the footage in any way; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that to help ensure that law enforcement-operated recording devices are used to enhance and maintain an individual's civil rights, law enforcement departments must develop appropriate policies with the input of civil rights advocates and the local community; the policies must be readily available to the public, and any changes to the policies must also be made with input from the community; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP call upon the U.S. Department of Justice to codify best practices and procedures and promulgate regulations for the use of law enforcement recording and surveillance devices so that they may be used in the administration of justice and preservation of civil rights; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP urge all law enforcement agencies across the nation to adopt procedures for the use of audio, visual, and surveillance devices such as vehicle dashboard cameras, body cameras, weapon and Taser cameras, etc. that are in line with the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

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