The advantages of recording certain interactions and processes in the workplace are well understood by now. The insights gained from video recordings make it easy to verify or dispute any workplace safety or professionalism claims, and help operations gain greater context into where processes are working well and where efficiencies can be gained.
Having worked with the world’s largest law enforcement agencies for over two decades, Axon is uniquely qualified to share best practices and general guidelines on how to effectively implement a body-worn camera program that benefits and respects the privacy of all parties involved. As we grow our business into commercial sectors, we are also finding several key policy best practices that are valuable to consider across all sectors.
While Axon will gladly provide best practices based on learnings from thousands of customer implementations, it’s important to note that we do not provide legal advice or set policy for organizations. These are merely suggestions, and it is of the utmost importance that any recording policies you implement adhere to federal, state and local laws.
Policy Recommendations for Video Recordings
The most important recommendation we make to our customers is to have polices in place. Policies vary greatly from company to company and from industry to industry, but having a documented policy that controls how and when video recordings should be used is integral to the program’s success.
Always inform employees that they are being recorded
It is likely that you have already obtained written consent from your employees to be recorded if you operate CCTV or in-vehicle cameras. This blanket permission to record employees while they are on the job also applies to body-worn cameras, so it’s likely you do not need to obtain any new consent for a body-worn camera program. One somewhat common scenario where we have found variance working with our customers is if current policy only provides latitude for recording in certain facilities or areas - this may need to be expanded to account for the mobile nature of body-worn cameras travelling to and through areas outside of current scope.
In most cases, employers should consider posting written notice in areas where employees might be recorded.
Do not record video in private areas
Although recording in workplaces, vehicles and public places is generally allowed, employers should be careful not to record in private places. A good guideline is if your employee is likely to remove their clothes in an area, you should not be recording there (bathrooms, locker rooms, sleeper berths in long-haul trucks). Through many implementations with customers across industries, we have found using common sense is a pretty safe way to avoid any problems with this one.
Ensure recording and data storage practices meet security and compliance standards
Data security is critical to ensure any sensitive data is not leaked or viewed by anyone without the proper credentials. Certainty that any data is being securely transmitted and stored is key to business continuity and properly servicing customers. Working with Axon gives you certainty to know that your data is always protected to the highest standards.
The Axon Network provides tools and a framework that makes it easy to adhere to common regulations like GDPR and HIPAA. The Axon software platform provides a highly secure and compliant platform to store and manage data, but it is up to organizations to ensure the way they are collecting and sharing data is compliant.
Default to strict access control
User defined roles and permissions are critical to ensure that data stays private and secure. In spite of best efforts to properly protect data with highly secure and compliant systems, most data breaches are caused by negligent employee practices that unintentionally expose sensitive data. To secure data from end-to-end, it’s mandatory that data access privileges are restricted to only a few employees that truly need access to certain data to perform their jobs and are properly trained on how to securely handle that data.
Implement a recording retention policy
Video data is valuable to employers for all kinds of reasons. Employers may confirm employee misconduct or safety violations through video recordings. They may be able to provide proof of proper completion of work or professional behavior to dispel any customer complaints. But that video can only help if it’s still around for any subsequent proceedings or lawsuits. It’s critical to have a policy in place ahead of time that dictates how long employer-recorded videos will typically be retained. It’s also important for employers to have a policy in place for saving especially important videos beyond the timelines in the standard policy.
Do not record everything
This is a best practice based on many trials with customers in the private sector. There are two reasons we recommend this. The first is that recording everything makes it much more likely that you capture sensitive data you don’t really need and would rather not have. Secondly, recording everything makes for an unwieldy data set that is harder to sort and manage. An “always on” policy leads to a huge amount of data, most of which will not be useful, and makes it harder to protect employee and customer privacy. Most business understand likely points of failure, inefficiency or contention – and it usually makes the most sense to only record during these periods.
It’s important to be mindful when implementing a body-worn camera program. In most cases, there are already existing policies and workflows that accommodate body-worn cameras without the need to reinvent wheel. And Axon is here to help. We have vast experience helping implement programs and can share best practices from thousands of successful deployments. We are also happy to point you to helpful resources such as the BJA Body-Worn Camera Toolkit for you to review on your own.
While Axon is here to guide you on what we have seen be successful, and unsuccessful, in the past, it’s important that you always verify new policies or workflows with your legal and HR teams as appropriate.
Reach out and let us know how we can help you navigate any policy or workflow questions to get the most out of a body-worn camera program.