I-Team: When police don’t turn on body cameras – what happens?

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Metro Police officers are required to wear body cameras, but what happens if they don’t turn them on?

The I-Team has a closer look at what’s referred to as “progressive discipline,” and why some say it doesn’t seem like discipline at all.

Recent events are drawing attention to Metro’s body worn cameras and how sometimes officers don’t always turn them on.

The I-Team has learned an officer has at least six chances before they may face serious consequences.

 “The policy exists and the officers have to be held accountable,” said Tod Story, executive director, ACLU. “The policy as it currently reads with Metro gives way too much leniency for the body worn camera policy, because if an officer is not compliant, then they know that nothing’s going to be done.”

The I-Team obtained this list of requirement violations.

  • The first three times an officer fails to activate a body camera, they receive a contact report: a conversation with a supervisor that is documented and stays in their file for a year.
  • The fourth time: a complaint is opened, and a supervisory intervention process will be done.
  • The fifth time: also, a complaint and a written reprimand.
  • Any additional violations: a complaint and progressive discipline.

“They’re not robots, they’re human beings and sometimes they make mistakes,” said David Roger, LVPPA.

Former Clark County District Attorney David Roger is now the legal counsel for the union representing Metro officers.

“We don’t have 100 percent activation rate within the department. There are still times where you know, officers in a situation really have to act quickly and they forget,” Roger said.

According to the department, one of the first officers to enter gunman Stephen Paddock’s room at Mandalay Bay during the Oct. 1 shooting massacre did not activate his camera.

And the main officer involved in the controversial encounter with Michael Bennett last September didn’t turn on his either.

The department claims officers chased the NFL star because he was acting suspiciously during what they initially thought was an active shooting at the Cromwell.

“This was a high stress situation,” Roger said.

“We know that officers are incentivized to wear the cameras through the union contract,” Story said. That there was a negotiated pay increase. Well maybe there needs to be a pay decrease if someone doesn’t comply with that policy.”

READ: Metro Body Camera Policy

According to Roger, the pay increase began in 2016, increasing over three years to a total of 1 percent.
The department began a pilot project in 2014 and over the past four years, equipped all patrol officers with the body cameras.

Officers are required to activate them for all dispatch calls involving contact with citizens and interviews, searches, traffic stops, and more.

“Fortunately, we have enough officers who respond to calls that you know, aren’t on the front line and do activate their cameras but these are honest mistakes,” Roger said.

The I-Team put in a request with the Metro police department for an interview about body cameras. The policy was provided, but that request for an interview was ignored.
 

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