Special Report: Local Law Enforcement Body Camera Policies

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Early this month 1011 News told you about a man filing a lawsuit against the City of Lincoln claiming police used excessive force. According to court documents the man claims LPD held him in a choke hold where he lost consciousness and fractured his shoulder blade.

The man also faces charges for obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. LPD claims the man was combative.

While covering this ongoing case LPD told 1011 News some of the officers were wearing body cameras, but just one had a recording of the incident. And that officer activated their camera after the initial scuffle.

This prompted 1011 News to look into what law enforcement agencies are using body cameras and how they use them. Below is a table comparing five how five local departments use body cameras.

Most police body cameras operate like the UNLPD's camera. All recorded footage is dumped into a server, and protected with software safeguards.

UNLPD, Belleview Police Department, and Kearney Police Department encourage officers to hit the record button before every encounter with the public. But the Nebraska State Patrol and the Lincoln Police Department instruct officers to record when they think it is needed.

Interim Police Chief Brian Jackson says his department does not record everything because of the concern of cost and privacy for both citizens and officers. Using four cameras for the past four years, Jackson says the department does not have a written policy on how to use cameras because they are still testing out the technology.

Starting in 2017 all law enforcement agencies in Nebraska will have to develop written body camera policies under a new law. "Our new policy will be the minimum standard for Nebraska law enforcement," said executive director of the Nebraska Crime Commission, Darrell Fisher.

Fisher would not go into specifics because the commission is still working the policy, but did say the current draft requires law enforcement to record every public encounter. Departments would also be required to wait at least 90 days before deleting any footage, which none of the departments 1011 spoke with currently do.

Captain Plessel at UNLPD says this may cost some departments more money and time, but for his department, it's worth it.