Slow Your Roll Out of Body-Worn Cameras: Privacy Concerns and the Tension Between Transparency and Surveillance in Arizona

Body-Worn Camera (BWC) programs are becoming increasingly popular. In 2015 and 2016, the Department of Justice awarded more than $40 million in funding for BWCs to law-enforcement agencies, and most major cities have adopted them or plan to in the coming years. However, there are a number of fundamental problems: BWCs raise important privacy concerns, but there is no coherent national policy governing their use, and local departments often have only remedial policies. Furthermore, recent studies have called into question whether BWCs actually reduce the use of force by police, and BWC programs entail high initial and continuing costs. The policies that the Tucson, Mesa, and Phoenix Police Departments currently use implicate serious privacy concerns and need to be addressed. Therefore, this Note proposes that police departments act prospectively: they should study the need to implement a BWC program, or the need to expand one, and flesh out detailed guidelines before equipping more officers. These policies should preserve the privacy of individuals and the public while increasing the accountability of police actions.