Q: Why is Staunton City Schools (SCS) allowing School Resource Officers to wear body cameras?
A: SCS has long been committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all of its students, and the addition of BWCs will assist in that goal. Research has shown that people who are aware their actions may be recorded are more likely to conduct themselves appropriately. With the Staunton Police Department’s recent addition of BWCs, it’s a natural next step for Staunton officers who are stationed in City schools to be equipped with them as well. Finally, the inclusion of BWCs is simply an extension of the school division’s existing operation. SCS has utilized a video surveillance system in its schools for more than 10 years.
Q: How will SROs utilize BWCs at my child’s school?
A. SROs are restricted in utilizing their BWCs to those cases in which criminal activity is suspected or while assisting school personnel with matters that may result in disorderly or disruptive behavior. SROs will not activate their BWCs when present during meetings between students and school personnel that are of an administrative nature and do not involve suspected criminal activity or the potential for disruptive behavior.
Q: What happens if my child is an uninvolved bystander captured on video during suspected criminal activity or an altercation?
A. The Staunton Police Department has the ability to blur the faces of those uninvolved in the events being recorded.
Q. Will my child know if he or she is being recorded?
A. SROs will not be recording unless criminal activity or disruptive behavior is suspected or occurring. During those situations, a student should assume that he or she is being recorded.
Q. Will video footage captured by SROs be available for public viewing?
A. This will depend on the situation. If the video involves a criminal investigation, then it may not be released to the public. Anyone interested in viewing video as captured by the Police Department’s BWC program can make a request to do so.
Q. Can I view video footage of my child?
A. If you believe that your child has been involved in an incident that may have been recorded by the Police Department, you can contact the department’s administration at 540.332.3845 to make such a request. In the event that the footage involves a criminal investigation, you may not be permitted to view the footage until the matter is heard in court.
Q. How long are videos retained?
A. Video footage is stored by the Staunton Police Department for up to 30 days. In cases of criminal activity, the footage will be retained in perpetuity. Staunton City Schools will not possess videos captured by SROs. All footage will be owned and maintained by the Police Department.