UW-Milwaukee Police Department Body Worn Camera (BWC) Frequently Asked Questions

BWC FAQs

What is a Body Worn Camera?

A body worn camera (BWC) is a mobile camera worn by a UWMPD police officer used to record interactions with the public when conducting police business.

Why are UWMPD Officers wearing cameras?

BWC technology has developed to the point that it is recognized as an effective law enforcement tool.  Police departments nationwide are adapting the BWC’s for their departments.  Some of the proven benefits of wearing BWC’s are:

  1. Officer accountability
  2. Greater transparency
  3. Gathering evidence of the event the officer is investigating
  4. Moderated behavior of people present at incidents

What body worn camera system is the UWMPD using?

The department uses the Axon Body Worn Camera system to capture video and their cloud based video management system (vms) Evidence.com to manage the videos that have been captured.  To learn more about the camera, vms, or their other products, please visit their website at www.axon.com

How many cameras does the UWMPD have deployed?

UWMPD will have 33 body worn cameras deployed by the end of October 2017.

When will officers be recording with their body cameras?

Police officers will activate their body camera whenever they respond to calls for service or have public contacts initiated pursuant to a law enforcement investigation or investigation of possible criminal activity.  The use of cameras is guided by department policy.

Will officers be recording casual conversations with people on campus?

No.  Officers will not be recording informal encounters with the campus community.

How do I know if I am being captured on video?

The camera worn by officers will be clearly visible.  If the officer is taking law enforcement action and is wearing a video camera, you can assume he/she has activated the video.  You may also ask the officer if his/her video is activated.

Are there places where officers cannot use their body cameras? 

Typically officers will not record in places where there is an expectation of privacy, such as restrooms, locker rooms, and medical patient care areas — unless there is reasonable suspicion a crime is being committed or the recording of the location is material to an investigation.

What about my privacy?

The courts have long held that an individual has no expectation of privacy in a public place.  It is also true that if an officer has a legal right to be somewhere, he/she can also capture video.  This does include private property.  Concern for your privacy is also why we carefully guard the release of the captured video.

If I was recorded, can I review the recording?

Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to view the recording, but not at the scene.  A request to view a recording is a public records request. UWM’s Public Records Custodian would determine whether access is permitted under the Wisconsin Public Records Law. Please be advised that such records requests take time to process, and recordings may not be immediately available.

What happens to a video once it is recorded?

At the end of each shift, officers will upload the data to a cloud-based service to store the files.  Depending on the type of video captured, data will be saved for a minimum of 130 days or as otherwise required by the Wisconsin Public Records Law.

What is the process for obtaining a copy of a body camera video?

These types of requests need to be made to UWM’s Public Records Custodian (public-records@uwm.edu).

See video below from Chief Joseph LeMire sharing information about the department’s BWC program: