OKLAHOMA CITY – After several months of negotiations, it seems the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police have come to an agreement regarding the use of body cameras.
In January, many Oklahoma City police officers were outfitted with body cameras. In fact, the department recently received a$270,000 grant that would make it possible for every officer in the department to wear a body camera.
However, the Fraternal Order of Police said they had some reservations about the body cam program.
The two organizations couldn’t agree on when officers should activate the cameras and who should be able to look at the footage.
For the past five months, those body cameras have not been in use.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Police Department announced that it had come to an agreement with the FOP.
The new agreement defines when officers are required to activate the cameras, the frequency of usage audits, and when the video can be reviewed by police management.
“Body-worn cameras are an additional tool for better policing that provides more openness and accountability of officers’ and citizens’ actions,” said Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty. “Police management and FOP worked together to create a procedure that will provide guidance to officers, protect the rights of officers and management, while ensuring police accountability to the public.”
Under the terms of agreement, officers must activate body-worn cameras in most situation including voluntary contact with people in public places, before detaining someone or using force, before exiting their patrol car on high-priority calls, during pursuits or sobriety tests and when they’re asked to by a supervisor.
Officers may not activate the cameras when interviewing victims or witnesses and other involved or reporting parties, in situations where someone would have a reasonable expectation of privacy or in a healthcare facility.
“The OKC FOP has always supported the use of body cameras, and believes these cameras will help exonerate officers of false complaints and reinforce the professional image of Oklahoma City officers,” said FOP President John George. “We’re proud to have reached an agreement with the Police Department on policies for the use of cameras that satisfies the needs of management, officers and the public. We look forward to getting these body cameras back on the streets.”
After completing training, each officer has a 90-day grace period for unintentionally failing to activate the camera when it’s required.
However, officials say a consistent pattern of failing to activate the camera would result in an investigation and corrective action.
During a news conference on Tuesday, city leaders thanked the citizens for being patient as they worked through this process.