February 12, 2019

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Body Worn Cameras and Privacy

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement.

Know when you should record. Or when you should not record. 

Today’s tip is for law enforcement officers and it deals with the privacy of health care information and bodyworn cameras.  

For the most part, in our society, the privacy of health and medical information is very importantThere’s even is a comprehensive federal law that protects the privacy of these records. I’m sure you’ve heard it. HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It has been the law for more than 20 years.  

But what does this have to do with my body-worn camera? You could be recording video of patient records or patients receiving medical care. You could be recording audio of conversations between a patient and a treatment provider. Despite our efforts to avoid it, this very private information could accidentally become public, through a records request or a criminal trial.  

You’re responding to a disturbance in a medical facility. Your department policy requires you to activate the camera when handling disturbances, right?  

Or you’re talking to an injured victim or a witness at the hospital. It’s usually a good idea to record these statements, isn’t it? 

There are even some patient privacy concerns outside of traditional health care settings. What about recording at a crime scene where paramedics are working on someone. Is it possible that the recording would capture private conversations  

Now I’m not here telling you when you should record. Or when you should not record. That is something that you’ll have to decide based on your policy and based on the specific situation.  

I am saying that you should always respect privacy and you should consider turning your camera off when the need to record is outweighed by privacy concerns. 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off.  


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