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Body Cameras: A Valuable Tool for Private Security Officers

Body worn cameras have become an important element of the preventative measures police departments nationwide use to protect their officers, by diffusing aggression early in a confrontation. After seeing the success of these initiatives put in place, we decided to follow suit.


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Body cameras increase the overall safety of security officers and the public.
  • People act differently when they know they are being filmed – body cameras can encourage good behavior by security guards and members of the public, leading to a decrease in violence, use of force incidents, and attacks on officers on duty.

  • Body cameras provide visual and audio evidence that can independently verify what happened in any given situation.

  • Video recorded from body cameras can be used to train new and existing security officers in how to perform during difficult encounters with the public.

At American Alliance Security Agency, all security officers are trained and educated in utilizing their company-issued body cameras. With the tool’s increasing popularity, security managers considering on implementing body cameras into their companies should be aware of the following:


1. LIMITING LIABILITY


Before using body cameras, it is imperative that security managers consult legal counsel and local law enforcement. Use their guidance to determine the legality of body cameras worn by security officers and appropriate protocols and procedures for filming, video storage, and usage. Certain states have laws prohibiting such footage outright.


Security managers should then set up policies and procedures modeled after law enforcement protocols. Determine when and where guards will be recording. Are they going to keep the camera running their entire shift, or are they going to hit record when there is a security stop or transaction? Also, security managers should determine how long and where the company will store recordings and how the firm will use them. The longer the footage is kept the better, but storage space and the cost of that storage may factor into this decision.


To address privacy concerns, guards using the cameras must let members of the public know they are being recorded. All stakeholders must be informed of this decision so that they may take appropriate action. For example, a homeowner’s association should send letters out to their members informing them that security officers will be wearing cameras. The association should also change its bylaws to note that residents cannot sue the homeowner’s association or the security force for invasion of privacy.


When a client requires a contract security service provider to use cameras, the contract company should request a hold harmless clause—to insulate the guard company from claims brought due to the use of these cameras. An attorney or legal counsel should assist in drafting this language and they should also consider Third Party Indemnification and Limitation of Liability clauses to further limit liability.


2. LEVERAGING CAMERAS


From an insurance perspective, body cameras will likely be a net positive for security professionals. Here are a few key reasons why:


• Security officers are less likely to behave badly when their interactions are being recorded.

• Assuming a security officer is well-trained and acts appropriately, video footage will help insurers assess claims quickly and accurately, possibly reducing the number of frivolous excessive force claims.

• On-the-job footage can assist firms in training new security personnel. Ongoing training is a crucial component of reducing the severity and frequency of insurance claims. With footage captured from body cameras, security firms can demonstrate to security officers both good and bad habits and transactions. This also helps identify patterns that can lead to claims before an unfortunate incident occurs.


As with most advances in security technology, body cameras should be evaluated judiciously before they are implemented. But this technology ultimately has the potential to actually ease some insurance concerns for security firms.