June 4, 2024

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Dealing with Cameras at Emergency Incidents

Gordon Graham
Category: Public Safety

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for everyone in public safety. We’re going to talk about cameras as they relate to emergency incidents.

As a public servant, you need to assume that you’re almost always on camera.

These days, cameras are everywhere: In people’s houses, connected to their doorbells, and, of course, in their pockets. There are also commercial security cameras, dashcams, and the body-worn cameras issued by many police agencies and even some fire and EMS departments.

As a public servant, you need to assume that you’re almost always on camera. The recording of public officials is protected by the First Amendment.

Even though you can’t expect much privacy while you’re working, you do need to ensure the privacy of patients and victims, which is expressly protected by law. Also, your duties often take you into private areas in both residential and commercial settings. Your job requires that you respect and protect that privacy to help maintain the public’s trust.

And while we’re on the topic, I want to mention personal cell phones. If you need to document things on scene, you should always use a device that’s owned and maintained by your agency — not your personal phone. And for Pete’s sake, don’t ever post this stuff on social media. Doing so can jeopardize your department — and your job.

Now, all these cameras aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Many of the videos you star in will end up on someone else’s social media. This can be good for you and your colleagues to review as “game film.” If your department is performing well, it can also be a good source of public support.

So when you’re out in the community and doing your job, expect that there will be a record of everything you say and do. If you’re doing the right thing, there isn’t anything to worry about. So do the right thing. The public deserves it.

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

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