Body-Worn Cameras

August 2023

Over the summer University Police Department (UPD) officers began wearing body-worn cameras (BWCs). BWCs are commonplace in police departments and are used increasingly in SUNY and other university and college police departments. 

BWCs provide video and audio recordings of interactions between officers and members of the campus community. They also provide additional transparency and accountability for everyone involved, mainly when concerns about interactions between officers and the public are raised. 

BWCs are activated, with rare exceptions, during a police response to a call for service or when actively engaged in law enforcement. UPD officers have received proper training to ensure the cameras are used properly. The cameras will not record continuously, such as during campus events or routine patrols. The College's policy also ensures that BWCs will not be used in sensitive situations where an individual's privacy is of utmost importance.

The College and UPD hold paramount campus safety and student well-being. The BWC program is our latest effort to ensure a safe, healthy, and secure campus community.

Q. When are BWCs activated?

A. UPD officers may deploy their BWC anytime they believe it would be appropriate or valuable to have a recording of an incident, including but not limited to: criminal and non-criminal calls for service, arrests or detentions, uses of force, searches, traffic stops, motor vehicle accidents, interviews, and all encounters that have the potential to be confrontational or have become adversarial.

Q. Who is able to see the footage?

A. The UPD Police Chief must authorize all access to BWC data, which is primarily used by officers directly involved for the purposes of completing incident reports.

Q. Can officers delete footage? 

A. Officers don’t have ability to delete footage.

Q. How do you request footage?

A. BWC recordings may be subject to requests for release under New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

Q. How is my privacy protected?

A. In the rare occurrence that BWC recordings must be released, names and private information are redacted and recordings are edited so faces are not identifiable.

Q. How long is it kept?

A. It depends on the nature of the incident and can range anywhere from 90 days to indefinitely.

Q. Where is the camera worn?

A. The BWC is mounted on the officer’s outermost garment.

Q. Will all UPD officers wear them all the time?

A. Officers will not activate or record with a BWC unless they are actively engaged in law enforcement. If you run into a UPD officer at Starbucks, for example, they will not record your interaction. 

Q. Is SUNY Geneseo the only law enforcement agency in the area that uses BWCs?

A. Many law enforcement agencies are beginning to use BWC, just as Geneseo, to increase transparency and accountability during law enforcement engagements. Geneseo Police Department and the New York State police already use BWCs, as well as several SUNY institutions, including SUNY Brockport, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Potsdam, and SUNY Albany.