KENOSHA COUNTY ⏤ Tonight, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department will present its drafted policies governing the use of the department’s new body cameras.
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Both will come before the Kenosha County Judiciary and Law Enforcement Committee tonight (May 5) at 6:30 p.m. The in-person meeting will take place at the Kenosha County Job Center, 8600 Sheridan Rd., in Kenosha.
The public may enter the meeting through Entrance D on the east side of the building.
Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department policy text
The department’s proposed policies are very specific when it comes to how deputies are to identify themselves on their recordings.
“When using a portable recorder, the assigned member shall record his/her name, KSD identification number, and the current date and time in the beginning and the end of the shift or other period of use, regardless of whether any activity was recorded,” its text states. “This procedure is not required when the recording device and related software captures the user’s unique identification and the date and time of each recording.”
In its introduction, it also sets the tone of the department’s expectations as far as how much will be recorded.
“Members should document the existence of a recording in any report or other official record of the contact, including any instance where the recorder malfunctioned or the member deactivated the recording. Members should include the reason for deactivation,” it states at the end of Section 424.4.
The public has asked KCSD how often it will expect deputies to turn on their cameras since they announced them. And, according to the policy, deputies would record all interactions with the public.
“Members should activate the recorder any time they engage in work-related interactions with any members of the public or any time members believe it would be appropriate or valuable to record an incident,” it states in section 425.5.
The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department policy also excludes undercover personnel from that requirement.
Specific instances were deputies must activate their cameras in the policy include:
- All enforcement and investigative contacts including, calls for service and field interview (FI) situations;
- Traffic stops including, but not limited to, traffic violations, stranded motorist assistance and all crime interdiction stops;
- Self-initiated activity in which a member would normally notify dispatch;
- Any other contact that becomes adversarial after the initial contact in a situation that would not otherwise require recording;
- Search warrant entry and execution;
- And while escorting, transporting, or guarding inmates and arrestees. (i.e., hospital guard, court escorts, and proceedings)
Department instructs deputies to also focus on dignity
While the department policy states deputies are to record all interactions with the public, it also makes exceptions for sensitive situations and privacy.
“Members should remain sensitive to the dignity of all individuals being recorded and exercise sound discretion to respect privacy by discontinuing recording whenever it reasonably appears to the member that such privacy may outweigh any legitimate law enforcement interest in recording,” it states in Section 425.5. “Requests by members of the public to stop recording should be considered using this same criterion.”
However, deputies must start recording again when that moment or situation ends.
Recordings to run continuously
Beyond those few cases, the department expects its deputies to record continuously once they activate their cameras.
“Once activated, the portable recorder should remain on continuously until the member reasonably believes that his/her direct participation in the incident is complete or the situation no longer fits the criteria for activation,” Policy 425.5.1 states. “Recording may be stopped during significant periods of inactivity such as report writing, tactical discussion outside of the presence of members of the public, or other breaks from direct participation in the incident.”
In the county jail
Concerning jail personnel, the department requires they turn on their devices in the following specific situations, under Policy 526.5:
- During interactions with inmates or when in any area where there is a potential for visual or physical inmate contact. Inmate housing units/dorms/blocks and the officer station in inmate housing units/dorms/blocks are an example.
- During interactions with the public.
They face the same guidelines concerning activation, deactivation and a mindfulness of dignity as deputies covered under Policy 425.
See more of what the Kenosha County Judiciary and Law Enforcement Committee will discuss at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/3311?html=true.
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