Technology & Social Media
As part of national standards, the issue of technology’s impact on privacy concerns should be addressed in accordance with protections provided by constitutional law.
The department policy associated with Body Worn Camera/In Car Video (BWC/ICV) instructs officers to continue to record, even when there are potential privacy concerns, to maintain the integrity of the potential evidentiary material. Prior to release, all videos are redacted to maintain the privacy of citizens. In relation to constitutional law, officers will only record in areas where they have a legal right to be. As a result, the presence of the recording device will not generate any additional burden on an individual’s constitutional rights that would not have been present already if the camera was not present.
Prior to searching an electronic device, the department requires that an individual either provide consent, or the department member must obtain a search warrant. If consent is provided, and a device is imaged, the imaging must be stopped at the time that the consent is withdrawn. However, the data that is retrieved during the first portion of the imaging processing may still be searched because that data is considered department property.
Law enforcement agencies should deploy smart technology that is designed to prevent the tampering with or manipulating of evidence in violation of policy.
The department has policies and tools to ensure chain-of-custody is maintained and property is not tampered with. MPD security features include, but are not limited to: cameras, electronic audit trails, the barcode scanner tracking system, inspections, and audits to assure that evidence is secure and handled according to policy.
The implementation of appropriate technology by law enforcement agencies should be designed considering local needs and aligned with national standards.
The Memphis Police Department has adopted an assortment of technology solutions to meet local needs and are aligned with national standards. First, the department implemented an ICV/BWC program as a response to requests from citizens. This program uses Axon cameras, which is one of the industry standards. Second, the department has updated its computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system to allow remote access by patrol officers and to increase efficiency; this is in alignment with the appropriate adoption of technology. The adoption of the CAD system cleared air time on the radio system, which meets FCC requirements.
Law enforcement agencies should encourage public engagement and collaboration, including the use of community advisory bodies when developing a policy for the use of a new technology.
The Memphis Police Department occasionally utilizes and relies on feedback from surveys,
town hall meetings, administrative staff, well-versed officers, committee research, community stakeholders, and model policies from other agencies when developing policies. Often times, valuable input of local social services and officer incidents assist with encouraging and developing policies.
Law enforcement agencies should include an evaluation or assessment process to gauge the effectiveness of any new technology, soliciting input from all levels of the agency, from line officer to leadership, as well as assessment from members of the community.
The department has examined use of force complaints as a method to evaluate the effectiveness of the IVC/BWC program. The department used the call response times as a means to evaluate the implementation of the new CAD system. The director solicits input from varying levels of the agency through an advisory board meeting and meetings with administrative staff.
Law enforcement agencies should adopt the use of new technologies that will help them better serve people with special needs or disabilities.
The department has adopted TTY and UBDuo to communicate with individuals that are hearing impaired. The department now has the ability for individuals to request assistance through 911 via text messages. The department has a language line to provide translation services to communicate with individuals that do not speak English when an interpreter is not available.
Law enforcement agencies should review and consider the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Body Worn Camera Toolkit to assist in implement BWCs
The department has already implemented an appropriate BWC program.
Law enforcement agencies should adopt model policies and best practices for technology-based community engagement that increases community trust and access.
The department has developed policies associated with community engagement with the intention of maximizing the trust and access of the community. First, the department operates a variety of social media accounts. Designated department members such as the members of the PIO, are permitted to make posts that represent the department. These posts range in scope from community engagement activities to information pertaining to more serious matters, such as crimes and wanted persons. Through social media accounts, the public has an open forum to discuss issues and to provide feedback directly to the department. Second, the department has adopted a policy that restricts department members’ individual use of social media by prohibiting posts that are overtly offensive by nature. In addition, department members are prohibited from posting photos that are taken in the course of their duties, except for departmental ceremonies and graduations.