With local police officers testing new body-worn video cameras, Spokane Police Department officials hosted a demonstration of the technology today, explaining the limitations of the cameras and the importance of crafting a careful policy. The U.S. Department of Justice meanwhile released a 92-page report outlining “best practices” for implementing body cameras.
Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub stressed the need to proceed “slowly and deliberately” on introducing body cameras. The department launched a four-month pilot program with 17 officers on Sept. 1. Straub says he hopes the initial testing will help officials work out issues with policies and practices while giving the community time to learn and offer feedback.
“The department made a promise to the community that we would have a very extensive conversation about body cameras,” he says.
Straub cited a number of expected benefits, including better officer accountability, increased citizen compliance and improved transparency, as shown by a study from the Rialto Police Department in California. But he also raised a number of sensitive scenarios in which recording officer interactions would be unethical, dangerous or potentially unconstitutional.
“We have to have three or four months of very slow, very methodical, very deliberate public conversation about this,” he says, adding, “These things just keep popping up, these little issues.”
News media representatives had a chance this morning to run the new cameras through a number of simulations. TV and newspaper reporters put on utility belts and walked through video encounters with armed individuals. Police officials then played back the video to demonstrate what they can and cannot see.
“This isn’t going to be a perfectly edited COPS video,” Lt. Kevin King says.
Police also played out a single scenario from different angles to show how some cameras might pick up some things while others won’t. They explain that when officers physically grapple with a subject, the video can become violently shaky even when the use of force in minimal.
“What these video cameras are recording,” King says, “and what you’re going to see are still not what the officer sees and what he feels, what he hears and what he’s experiencing while he’s out on the scene.”
The new camera models, the Taser Axon Body, measure about 3 inches long and weigh about 3.5 ounces, slightly lighter than an iPhone 5s. The battery should last 12 hours and it is intended to record visuals and audio comparable to what human eyes and ears can detect.
Straub says the department will “ramp up” its number of officers wearing the cameras in January after completing the pilot program and developing a final policy on camera use. The department will host a large community demonstration on Oct. 30 at Gonzaga University.
Community advocates have voiced frustration with the department’s policy process, saying public input should be incorporated throughout the process. Many have listed concerns with aspects of draft policies, saying they need key clarifications.
Straub says body cameras represent largely uncharted territory that will require the department to adapt its policies as it learns what works best. He says the department must also abide by state laws on “two-party consent” involving the recording of private citizens.
“There are no national standards,” he says. “There never will be because of the idiosyncrasies of state law. … There is no magic bullet with these things.”
Despite distinct local challenges, the Department of Justice today released an in-depth report on preliminary “best practices” for using body cameras. The report includes testimony from police leaders across the country with some initial findings on how to introduce body cameras to both officers and communities.
"When implementing body-worn cameras,” the report states, “law enforcement agencies must balance … privacy considerations with the need for transparency of police operations, accurate documentation of events, and evidence collection.”
Department officials compiled a list of 33 recommendations for collecting, storing, and tracking video data as well as how to engage the public on the issues. Many recommendations involve providing clear guidance on when officers must record or may not record interactions.
"In terms of when officers should be required to activate their cameras,” the report states, “the most common approach is requiring officers to record all calls for service and law enforcement-related encounters and activities, and to deactivate the camera only at the conclusion of the event or with supervisor approval.”
The report acknowledges the need for some officer discretion on when to record potentially sensitive encounters, but stressed those incidents should be carefully documented through writing or supervisor approval.
Other recommendations include:
• Policies should clearly outline unauthorized uses of body camera footage and discourage the recording of other officers during non-law enforcement-related interactions.
• Policies should designate which personnel must or can wear cameras to clarify who may be responsible for recording incidents.
• Officers should announce they are recording, whether required to by law or not, because it helps citizens recognize they’re accountable as well.
• Administrators should track how video is used by department or court to monitor usefulness.
Spokane includes many, but not all, of the recommended protocols in its most recent draft policy. The DOJ report also noted officers were the most likely to embrace the technology when they believed it to be a tool for collecting additional evidence or quickly contesting complaints.
"Like other new forms of technology, body-worn cameras have the potential to transform the field of policing,” the report concludes. “To make sure this change is positive, police agencies must think critically about the issues that cameras raise and must give careful consideration when developing body-worn camera policies and practices."
You have two more weekends of summer left to enjoy. Get out there and listen to outdoor live music while it’s still possible. Indoor live music is also an excellent choice. Rock on.
The MAC pulls out all the stops with tonight’s Begin Again! showing off two cool local acts, the Camaros and Pine League, at its outdoor amphitheater. $5 gets you into the show and the museum gallery to take a look around. The event runs from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Zeus — the crazy Toronto-based math rock band, not the head god of all Greek Mythology — hits the Bartlett tonight. Wild Pacific opens for the band.The all-ages show starts at 8 pm and is $10.
The Big Dipper is hosting a benefit concert for KYRS with local acts the Bettys and Gorilla & Rabbit making loud noises from the stage. The all-ages show starts at 8 pm and is $5.
The Booze Fighters. Now that is a fantastic band name. The group is reuniting tonight at the Baby Bar and playing along with locals Von the Baptist and Dem Empire. The show/birthday party is free and starts raging at 10 pm.
The Perry Street Shakedown is yet another local music festival, but it’s important to take advantage of the outdoor opportunity while you still can, before winter hits. This festival is essentially the South Perry District’s answer to Elkfest: It’s free, all-ages and includes local and West Coast talent. Saturday, the first-time festival lineup includes local acts Lavoy, Real Life Rockaz and Folkinception, and ends with blues-rock act Scott Pemberton Trio out of Portland. Sunday, expect local bands Big Red Barn and Flying Spiders, and also Blind Willies, out of San Francisco, and Five Alarm Funk from Vancouver, B.C. The event will naturally include fine selections from Perry Street Brewing Co. The festivities go from 2 pm to 10 pm daily.
Minneapolis hip-hop duo Atmosphere (see below) storms the Knitting Factory Sunday, bringing along with them the amazing Prof (see below). Dem Atlas and DJ Fundo are also on the bill for the all-ages show that starts at 8 pm and is $25.
The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) is overrun with cats! While I'd personally love nothing more than to go there right meow and snuggle them all (it's been a rough week), these kitties all need homes. Throughout this summer — the height of kitten season — SCRAPS has taken in hundreds of cats, but all of its partner rescue groups are full.
Because SCRAPS is the contracted animal control agency for the City of Spokane and all of Spokane County, the organization takes in nearly all stray animals, in addition to owner-surrendered pets. While SCRAPS works hard to place animals with other shelters and rescues in the region, pet overpopulation makes saving every single life nearly impossible. What I'm trying to say here is that perfectly adoptable pets are euthanized in Spokane because there is simply no room for them. It's a hard truth to swallow.
To find homes for its overflowing kitty residents, this weekend SCRAPS is offering waived adoption fees for all cats — including kittens. Adoptees just have to pay for the $15 county animal license for their new friend, which comes home spayed/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated.
The special runs today, Sept. 12 (the shelter closes at 5:30) and Saturday, Sept. 13, and the shelter is open from 10 am-5 pm. SCRAPS is located at 6815 E. Trent, and its phone number is 477-2532.
Look at all these cute little cats just waiting for you to take them home! (The thumbnail image for this post is of Domino, a very friendly adult male. Pet ID N. 6956)
OUTLANDER serves as a weekly round up of Inland Northwest outdoor recreation and natural resources news. This feature will highlight a wide variety of issues and events, ranging from camping stories to national environmental disputes. We’ll also try to include some scenic photos. Feel free to pass along suggestions or curiosities. The Inlander looks forward to sharing and celebrating the Great Outdoors.
Wildlife officials, wolf advocates and ranchers have clashed over the Huckleberry pack and the killing of at least 24 sheep in Stevens County. The conflict has ended with one breeding female wolf killed and nearly 1,800 sheep moving off the grazing area. See our story in this week’s issue along with an in-depth guide to additional context and resource materials. (Inlander)
Astronomers predict a better-than-usual Northern Lights display TONIGHT across the Northwest. (Accuweather)
State parks officials have announced a “free day” (no Discover Pass required) for Washington state parks on Sept. 27. An open house will also be held for a new equestrian arena at Riverside State Park. (State Parks)
Washington officials say this year’s fire season is one of the most destructive on record. (Reuters)
Montana firefighters rescued obscenely adorable mountain lion cubs from wildfire. (Missoulian)
Environmental groups in Idaho threatened a lawsuit this week over a federal program that kills thousands of “nuisance” animals each year. (S-R)
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife has continued to update its Fish Washington website to include new information on “high lakes,” which have nothing to do with marijuana. (WDFW)
As hunting season ramps up, Field & Stream has compiled some surprising and impressive game cam images. (F&S)
Also, remember Outlander is now on Twitter, so check that out for additional updates.
Spokane is once again The Onion's dateline choice — this time for a morbid news brief about a company reminding disgruntled employees they should not, in fact, scrawl "revenge" in blood in the conference room everyone has to share. (We trust you to know this already, but we have to say it: The Onion is satire.)
From the story:
“Most of you are already familiar with this rule, but just as a refresher, it’s directly against company policy for an employee to use blood to write ‘revenge’ on the conference room walls, door, or table,” wrote Shumaker, emphasizing that it did not matter if the word was rendered in human or animal blood. “Remember that we all use this room, and it’s inconsiderate to force your colleagues to delay their meeting to scrub ‘revenge’ off the whiteboard or windows.” Shumaker added that any employee who wanted revenge should simply carve the word into the forehead of his or her supervisor.
Happy Friday, fellow office dwellers!
Proposed Liberty Lake heating wells raising concerns about water contamination. (S-R)
A prominent Spokane attorney faces investigation on rape allegations. (KXLY)
A Sandpoint middle school teacher has retired after sending inappropriate text messages to a student. (KHQ)
Washington Supreme Court holds state Legislature in contempt for failing to provide funding for public education. (Seattle Times)
At least 11 children in Idaho hospitalized with severe respiratory illness possibly linked to enterovirus 68. (Idaho Statesman)
Utah elementary teacher injured when her concealed handgun discharges in bathroom stall killing innocent toilet. (AP)
Firefighters battling flames in Yosemite National Park also facing risky encounters with bears. (LA Times)
Navy pilot missing after two fighter jets crash into western Pacific Ocean. (NYT)
US steps up sanctions against Russia in continuing Ukraine conflict. (BBC)
Here at the Inlander, we've spent the year looking at mental health care in our region. The stories in the "State of Mind" series have covered issues ranging from how patients are treated at Eastern State Hospital to the difficulty of getting care to people in rural North Idaho to the treatment prisoners receive — or don't — while at the Spokane County Jail.
While the system is fraught with challenges, we also know there are many people in our community with mental illness and living productive, vibrant lives. To tell those stories, we need your help. We'd like to talk to people in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho who have experienced mental illness and are interested in sharing their stories.
If you are interested in sharing your story with an Inlander reporter for possible publication in our newspaper, please fill out the form below. We'll be in touch shortly.
I see him everywhere and think he is just a , he's funny, he dresses…
Killing off Harold Perrineau off so quickly was a huge mistake. What was the point???…
yet a sgt can take down like 20 zombie's fucking GG logic
Hated this show, Delta Force VS two zombies, what the fuck that was just so…
Don't compare z nation with twd . its a low budget production and it was…