In our last post we wrote about the use of a cellphone to record a traffic stop. In that post we indicated that as long as a recording device did not interfere with law enforcement officers as they completed an investigation, it is legal. Such recordings could be useful both in determining whether criminal charges will be filed as well as at trial to support either conviction or acquittal at trial.
Because of the usefulness of such recordings it may be unsurprising that the Virginia Beach Police Department is considering outfitting officers with body cameras.
According to the Virginia Beach Police Chief, the department is currently looking into the matter. Among other things they are seeking to determine:
- Policies surrounding the cameras’ use
- Where the cameras should be placed
- How to store the footage the cameras capture
In determining the best way to use them the police department could look to other communities in the state that already use the technology such as Hampton, Newport News, Chesapeake and Norfolk.
Another matter that needs to be addressed is how they will be paid for as the proposed budget for 2015-16 does not include an allotment for the cameras. The first year, acquiring 420 cameras is expected to cost $700,000. Of that amount, $450,000 would be for cameras and the necessary software. The remaining $250,000 would cover paying for personnel to administer the program. According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, in addition to five or six more lawyers, the extra workload body cameras would create would also necessitate more office space, equipment, support staff and paralegals.
There is no question that the widespread use of cameras by individuals to record interactions between individuals and law enforcement has changed the way in which cases of all types—including drug and violent crimes—are decided. When it comes to criminal defense, it is important to work with a lawyer who best understands how to use the evidence.