Sacramento, CA – Sacramento police officers will now have to announce their reason for turning off a bodycam or its microphone to comply with a new department policy.
The police change came on the heels of the fatal shooting of Stephon Martin, after bodycam video revealed that two officers had been told to mute their microphones only minutes after the officer-involved shooting occurred, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Sacramento Police Department is investigating who told the officers to turn the microphone off, and whether that was an appropriate order, KCRA reported.
The new policy was issued to officers last week, and requires officers to verbalize their reason for turning off their microphones before doing so, Sacramento Police Deputy Chief Ken Bernard explained at a Community Police Review Commission meeting on Monday.
Sacramento Police Spokesman Sergeant Vance Chandler said that prior to the new policy memo, officers hadn’t received instructions about when the equipment could and couldn’t be turned off, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Sgt. Chandler said the policy was already in development prior to the fatal shooting of Clark.
That shooting sparked protests in Sacramento, to include shutting down a professional sports arena, and officials sped up the creation of the bodycams directives in response, he said.
In the past, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said officers should turn off their microphones only when having personal conversations or dealing with a confidential informant, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But under the new policy directive, there were circumstances when officers were permitted to turn off the bodycams or their microphones.
Now officers may turn off bodycams when dealing with sexual assault victims, or if a victim refuses to talk with the bodycam on, and the situation isn’t confrontational. They’ll also turn them off for conversations with doctors, nurses, and paramedics.
Supervisors can also tell an officer to turn off a bodycam or its microphone under the new policy.