Denver police issued a proposed policy on body cameras that requires officers to use them in most interactions with the public and imposes penalties for failing to use the devices. Civil rights groups criticized the draft, saying the city should mandate officers working off duty wear the devices and ensure the public is notified when they are being filmed. “It’s a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go,” said Lisa Calderón of the Colorado Latino Forum’s chapter in Denver. The policy comes as the department fine tunes its rollout of 800 devices over the next year through a $6.1 million deal with Taser International.
Commander Magen Dodge said the priority is on getting the cameras on the street. The department is still considering a requirement that off-duty officers wear the devices, she said. The policy is still a work in progress. “We looked at model policies,” Dodge said. “Everything that’s in model policies are in our policies.” Dodge added that in certain interactions, including some mental health calls, police feel telling someone they are being recorded could “make the situation worse.” Police conducted a six-month trial run of the cameras last year with officers in one district, finding that while officers were using body cameras, use of force incidents were 8 percent less likely. A researcher also found the cameras made use of force complaints 35 percent less likely and arrests 18 percent less likely. “The presence of cameras has a positive impact on officers and citizens,” Dodge said. “…We’re trying to balance the benefits of the technology to some of the unintended consequences that any new technology or program will bring.”