Last year, the Anaheim City Council voted to spend $1,150,000 to purchase body cameras for uniformed officers in the Anaheim Police Department (APD)—despite the absence of any substantive evidence to support their effPUFFERYectiveness. “Little is known . . . whether the technology increases trust, legitimacy, and transparency of the police” (White, 2014, p. 35). Mayor Tait endorsed their use as a means for “developing transparency, accountability, and trust throughout the community.”

Implementation of body cameras is in process. But Tait and other council members should feel disappointment: The words accountability, transparency, and trust (AT&T) are not found in the Police Department’s Policy 451: Body Worn Cameras. Neither has the APD cited any of these factors as a priority for using body cameras, to wit, a mundane purpose: “to assist [police department] personnel in the performance of their duties by providing audio and video records of contacts” (§451.1, p. 341). Many Anaheim residents will feel justly disappointed: Police Department Policy 451 limits the meaning of accountability to the department’s self-definition of the word, lacks any transparency for the public, and ignores trust altogether.

Accountability. Except for authorized officers of the APD, members of the city’s or district attorney’s office, or authorized court personnel, there is no provision in Policy 451 that requires the Anaheim Police Department or its officers to account for their use of police body cameras. The word public is found only once in the policy (§451.1,
p. 341
). And there is no requirement that the APD audit or monitor the use of body cameras or determine their usage (§451.8, p. 345).

Uniformed officers on duty are required to wear body cameras and upload recordings at the end of each shift (§451.2, p. 341), although no policy provides information regarding the disciplinary action initiated against officers violating this provision. Neither does the policy address what happens when an officer fails to activate the issued body camera.

The preparation of police officers to use body cameras is not well-defined. A single program administrator is responsible for supervising and training administrative personnel and duty officers, documenting equipment failures, and maintaining the confidentiality and security of collected recordings (§451.9, p. 346-347). The policy manual does not include any specific information regarding training police personnel in using body cameras.

Transparency. The public in Anaheim lacks any right to review any recording from a police body camera: “The Chief of Police has the [sole] discretion to allow viewing or release of recorded files” (§451.7, p. 345), and the Chief may deny, for any reason, the review of a recording by a member of the APD (§451.7m, p. 345).

Trust. It has been argued that governmental employees are accountable to the public (Balko, 2014), particularly police officers, empowered with the authority to arrest and shoot to kill. Under the current police policy for using body cameras in the APD, there is no accountability to the public, no transparency, and no basis for developing trust between police officers and citizens.

Only time will tell whether Interim City Manager Paul Emery and the APD will update Policy 451 to include accountability, transparency, and trust regarding the use of police body cameras; whether they contribute to increasing accountability, transparency, and trust between Anaheim police officers and the city’s residents; or whether the rhetoric used to facilitate the purchase of body cameras represented only political puffery.