Page 12 - February 2021
P. 12

ThirdVice President’s Report
Know the rules of the game
 Happy new year, and remember: No lawyer, no statement. We have recently been receiving calls about members needing to go to BIA or COPA regarding the use of body-worn cameras or in-car cameras. If you are going to be playing the game, you need to know what the rules are.
Body Worn Cameras Special Order SO3-14.
If you do not know what is in this special order,
it would behoove you to read it. Knowing the rules of engagement will be the way to protect yourself, but we are often trained and armed to the bare minimum of information regarding new procedures of how we are sup- posed to be the police. This special order tells you what you can and cannot do and more importantly, what you should and should not do.
More officers are unnecessarily putting themselves in sit- uations that can lead down that road that we all have come to see and fear too often these days. Officers are turning off in-car cameras when they shouldn’t and not activating their body-worn cameras when they should. When you de- activate your in-car camera or your body-worn camera,
you might have to answer to some questions to COPA or BIA as to why you did what you did. Trust me, my friends, the answer of “I made a mistake” will not be a good reply for these two agencies. Keep in mind that the order states, “Sworn members will not unreasonably endanger them- selves or another person to conform to the provisions of this directive.”
Basically, anytime you have an encounter with the public or are performing any police function, your body cam must be activated unless there are mitigating circumstances that that do not allow you to do so. Remember, you will still have to answer to COPA or BIA as to why your BWC was not ac- tivated.
Emergency Vehicle Operations - Eluding And Pursuing General Order G03-03-14. In summary but not verbatim, this general order states that pursuits must conform to the following balancing test: The necessity of immediately ap- prehending the fleeing suspect outweighs the level of in- herent danger created by a motor vehicle pursuit. The pro- visions in this order state that members will not engage in a motor vehicle pursuit whenever the most serious offense is a number-one traffic offense, other than driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (but we all know who they are going to blame if something happens). In other words, do not chase stolen cars — that is bad.
If for whatever insane reason you decide to chase or pur- sue a vehicle and any supervisor tells you to terminate the chase, you’d better do it. Do not forget, my friends, you bring your own self-indictment form with you when you have your body cam, your in-car camera and the GPS that is on all police department vehicles. I know that some of us believe we are smarter than everyone else, but if you decide to turn off your body cam and turn off the in-car camera and the offenders you’re chasing crash, who do you think the Department will point the finger at if someone is hurt? You will be the one who is going to answer some questions under some very uncomfortable circumstances. So don’t do it!
Trust me, officers, I am the last guy to quote general or- ders or Department directives. If you know me and you know the kind of situations I have been in, you will know that I am not a general order kind of guy. I am trying to save officers heartache and undue stress. Believe me, when you get called down to an attorney’s office and are asked to list your assets, that’s when you know the shit just got real, my friends.
Assume that everything you are doing is being watched and everyone you are talking to is recording you. It sounds like paranoia, but better safe than fired. Always be aware of your surroundings, keep your head on a swivel and keep your hands out of your pockets and vest. As always, be safe and stay healthy.

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