APD Teases Out Body Camera Policies Ahead of This Month's Public Hearing

Nov 3, 2015

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has said he wants body cameras on his officers by the end of this year. While there have been a lot of questions about what happens with these videos once they’re recorded, APD is considering the best possible practices for dealing with the footage.


The city’s Public Safety Commission started off with a lot of questions:

  • Does the camera have an on/off switch, or does it simply run for the entire ten-hour shift where the camera’s activated when the officer clocks in on duty?
  • Where’s the camera mounted? On the head or earpiece or on the chest?
  • What’s the maximum resolution needed in the camera?

Commission Chair Kim Rossmo threw those questions out, but that last question was deemed too technical. Instead, APD tackled just two questions.

First, the retention of the footage: APD will hold on to the body camera footage for 90 days.

Commander Eli Reyes says these minimums go up with more serious offenses. A body camera video collected during a murder case? The department would keep that forever. Then there's the second question.

A new Texas law states that – for body camera footage taken on private property – police need written permission from the person in that video before it’s released to the public.

Commissioners wondered about sensitive victims, like rape victims, being recorded in public places. APD says it would advocate on behalf of the victim and not release video like that.

The department will hold a public hearing on body cameras on Nov. 30.