RD68 - Workgroup Study of the Impact of Body Worn Cameras on Workload in Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Offices – December 1, 2018

Executive Summary:

The Compensation Board is pleased to present this report summarizing the review by a workgroup of the impact on the workload of Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ offices of the use of body worn cameras (BWCs) by law enforcement officers within the jurisdictions they serve, pursuant to Chapter 2 of the 2018 Special Session I Virginia Acts of Assembly. This report presents the findings of the group’s review of processes related to body worn camera footage, judicial input and ethical considerations, policies and practices used in other states, fiscal and staffing challenges and other workload-related issues, and presents recommendations of the group having budgetary or legislative impact, as sought in the provisions directing the study.

Workgroup members in this review included representatives of the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, Virginia Association of Counties, and the Virginia Municipal League as well as representatives of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. Other workgroup participants included staff of multiple state agencies, including the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, Virginia State Police, Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Services Council, the administrative office of the courts - Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court, and staff of the Compensation Board. Staff of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees also attended the meetings.

A great deal of the focus of the workgroup’s review and discussion was focused on defining responsibilities of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office where body worn camera (BWC) footage exists in the areas of viewing, redaction and the prosecutor’s ethical obligations. Also, discussions focused on law enforcement practices for recording footage that would be considered evidentiary, and how that footage is tagged to specific events and the means by which it is shared with prosecutors. Workgroup members were presented with information obtained from surveys of Commonwealth’s Attorneys regarding BWC footage received and viewed, information regarding state-funded staffing and shortfalls that currently exist under staffing standards as well as existing local funding supporting staff, and data that generally defines caseload and overall workload of Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ offices. Other studies and reports on these issues from across the country were also reviewed.

The workgroup convened in three meetings in the fall of 2018; while significant information was gathered and shared during these meetings and recommendations were developed, the group determined that sufficient information does not exist at this time to fully measure workload in a consistent manner. Consequently, a recommendation is included that the group be continued for a two-year period for the purposes of gathering and analyzing data to develop more comprehensive measures to quantify workload.

The Compensation Board would like to thank the workgroup members for their time and contributions to the study, both in meetings and beyond, including survey data collections, contacts with jurisdictions across the country, and insights and inputs from their various areas of expertise. Questions or comments regarding this report should be directed to Robyn M. de Socio, Executive Secretary for the Compensation Board, at (804) 225-3439 or via e-mail at robyn.desocio@scb.virginia.gov.