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Wichita Police Department Unveils Formal Policy For Body Cameras


The Wichita Police Department unveiled a formal policy for body-worn cameras Thursday morning. The city says the cameras will be distributed to every officer by the end of the year.

The eight-page policy includes 15 scenarios in which Wichita police officers will be required to activate their body cameras, including:

  • Vehicle and pedestrian investigative detentions and stops.
  • Use of force.
  • High-risk situations.
  • Advising an individual of Miranda rights.
  • Statements made by subjects, victims or witnesses.
  • Vehicle searches.
  • K-9 deployments.
  • Physical arrest of persons.
  • Observed items in a criminal investigation of evidentiary value.
  • Service of a search warrant.
  • An encounter initiated be a private person (flagged down).
  • Any contact that becomes adversarial after the initial contact in a situation that would otherwise not require recording.
  • Any other circumstance where the officer believes recording an incident would be appropriate, or when directed by a supervisor.
  • Surveillance when the suspect is observed.

According to the policy, officers “may face” disciplinary action if the cameras aren’t recording during these times. If the cameras are found to have been tampered with in anyway, the policy indicates officers will be suspended for 15 days, and if it occurs a second time, an officer will be dismissed.
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell said the cameras will hold both the police department and citizens more accountable.

“The reality is, we have people that accuse our officers of a wide variety of things. We now have video and audio information, and it’s not he said/she said anymore," Longwell said.

The policy also addresses when footage will be available to the public. Citizens can submit an application to obtain footage, which includes a $35 fee. There are a number of reasons why a piece of footage wouldn’t be available to the public, including situations that involve the identify of minors or victims of sexual assault, and the interior of private residences, health care facilities, mental health facilities or social service offices.

The cameras will be immediately deployed in the department’s north patrol. The city still maintains its goal of equipping every officer with a body camera by the end of the year. The Wichita Police Department is depending on a federal grant to meet that goal.

Below is the Wichita Police Department's body-worn camera policy


Follow Sean Sandefur on Twitter @SeanSandefur

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