Today@Sam Article

LEMIT Launches Online Body Camera Course

March 16, 2017
SHSU Media Contact: Beth Kuhles

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The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas at Sam Houston State University is developing online courses to address current BodyCam630trends and emerging issues in the field and to provide easy access to professional development opportunities for all certified peace officers in the state.

The first program, Body Worn Cameras, debuted in January and assists agencies in developing policies and practices on the use of these new devices at the local level. Many law enforcement agencies are adopting the new technology to provide more transparency and to reduce allegations of misconduct against officers. The course covers model policies on the use of body worn cameras; guidelines for the creation, deletion and retention of recordings; protocols on public, media and employee access to the recordings; and issues to consider when using or purchasing the devices.

“Our primary goal is to make sure law enforcement officers get the legislatively mandated information on the role of the camera and to understand their agency’s policy,” said Andrea Hoke, program coordinator for the LEMIT course.

Police Chief Sean Mannix of the Cedar Park Police Department, who served on the Body Worn Camera Curriculum Development Committee at the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement, teaches the program. Participants will earn two hours of TCOLE credit upon successful completion of the course. The cost of the program is $45.

This is the first LEMIT class to be delivered in an online environment, where officers can access the curriculum via the Internet at their home or office. The course will be available online 24/7 and can be completed at the officer’s leisure.

"Online education is a great method to teach participants with limited resources and time,” said Rita Watkins, executive director of LEMIT. “This new offering helps police agencies fulfill a mandate with top caliber education in a virtual platform. We will continue to develop future online course offerings in order to educate and develop Texas peace officers."

The Texas Legislature passed a law in the last session requiring agencies using body worn cameras to develop policies and procedures on their use. Some of the mandates of the policy include:

  • Providing guidelines on when an officer should or should not use the camera based on privacy concerns
  • Developing provisions on the creation, retention and deletion of video and audio recordings
  • Offering procedures for public or media access or officer or agency reviews of the recordings
  • Creating documentation to handle malfunctions of the equipment
  • Raising awareness that officers are not required to keep cameras activated during the entire shift
  • Aligning policies with federal and Texas rules of evidence

In addition to providing policies and procedures, the course assists officers in the operation and evaluations of body worn camera systems.

 

 

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