Body Worn Camera Project - Rochester Police Department

Project BackgroundM1G3-front

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has worked with the Rochester Police Department (RPD) to make improvements of police-community relations a top priority. Moving forward towards this goal, the RPD Body-Worn Camera (BWC) initiative is key.

There is broad-based community support for this initiative, as evidenced by a Telephone Town Hall poll, City Council survey and statements of support from various community organizations.

The City has taken significant steps to plan for a BWC program, including extensive research on equipment, data management, policies and community involvement.

The City's Goals Are:   

  • Deploy BWCs to officers who regularly interact with the public in enforcement capacities.
  • Improve high quality public service and promote the perceived legitimacy, sense of fairness and procedural justice the community has about RPD.
  • Improve management of digital multi-media evidence (DME) to ensure identification, retention, accessibility of DME that is relevant to enforcement activities and the conduct of RPD officers.
  • Incorporate the BWC program into RPD's policy and training development.
  • Implement strong policies to ensure proper and credible use of BWCs.
  • Establish a continuing BWC program that remains technologically current and financially sustainable.

The RPD has entered various partnerships to ensure project success. This includes critical departments within the City representing Information Technology, Budget and Law. It also includes external partnerships with the District Attorney's Office, Public Defender and Civilian Review Board. Most significantly, it includes a strong partnership with the community, as represented by a variety of community and neighborhood organizations, as well as community input meetings focused on the gathering and sharing of information. 


Project Considerations 

  • Budget Restrictions (Cost to purchase/cost to maintain/labor cost)
  • Legal Restrictions (Privacy concerns/evidentiary nature of data/labor relations)
  • Equipment Restrictions (Fixed lens/distortion/battery life/data storage)
  • Cyber-security
  • Policy

Project Updates 

The Rochester Police Department’s Body Worn Camera (BWC) Project Team completed a Request for Proposal process to select a vendor to provide BWCs for the City of Rochester. On January 19, 2016, City Council authorized the City to enter into an agreement with this vendor. This began the implementation phase of the project. From January of 2016 to March 2017 the Rochester Police Department worked to deploy 500 body-worn cameras to patrol personnel. 

The BWC team will regularly post project updates HERE. Please check back regularly for updates and make use of the links on this page for additional information and to provide and additional INPUT that you may have.

Rochester Police Department Body-Worn Camera Manual Updates

Over the last year, the Rochester Police Department (RPD) has been working on a policy that directs the use of body-worn cameras by its members. During this time the Rochester Police Department gave the community a chance to view and provide comment on the draft manual. 

In June 2016, RPD finished a Body-Worn Camera Manual that was used for training and implementation of the BWC program. Based on comments and suggestions by RPD personnel, community organizations and other stakeholders, some changes were made from the original draft manual. This manual continues to be reviewed as we have moved from implementation of the Body-Worn Camera Program to full deployment of body-worn cameras to all patrol personnel. There may be future changes dependent on what we continue to learn as a Department and a Community now that the Rochester Police Department’s Body-Worn Camera Program is fully operational.

All four versions of the BWC Manual can be viewed below.

Current BWC Manual - August 2018

BWC Manual - February 2018

BWC Manual - August 2017 

BWC Manual - October 2016

BWC Manual - June 2016

Original Draft BWC Manual - 2016 

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions regarding the RPD BWC draft manual. 


Project Timeline 

  • January 2014:  RPD began to research the possibility of using Body Worn Cameras to understand program costs and best practices.
  • December 2014:  Mayor Lovely Warren, Chief Michael Ciminelli and Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo held a press conference to announce that the RPD will implement a BWC Program.
  • April 2015 - June 2015: Rochester City Council conducted a survey via Survey Monkey seeking public opinion regarding RPD officers being outfitted with body cameras.   Results of the survey can be found here.
  • June 2015:  
  • July 2015:  The City issued a Request For Proposals (RFP), asking vendors to provide detailed options for providing body worn cameras, as well as data storage and management solutions.
  • August 2015:  Vendor selection began, with the careful evaluation of all submitted vendor proposals.  Four vendors were selected to demonstrate their products, as well as provide further information in support of the City’s goals.
  • September 2015:  Limited field testing of cameras and data management began.  View the Standard Operating Procedure for the Testing and Evaluation of the Body Worn Camera Technology.
  • September 2015:  RPD is awarded a $600,000 federal grant to fund the program.
  • November 2015 - December 2015:  The City held five public meetings – one in each Police Section – to gain community input. For more information and to view topics discussed at these Community Input Sessions, click here.
  • January 2016:  Rochester City Council approved the selection of MES Lawmen Supply Company as the BWC vendor.
  • February 2016:  City and MES Lawmen agreed to terms and signed a contract.  Planning between RPD and MES Lawmen commenced with several meetings identifying tasks to be completed for successful implementation of the BWC Program.
  • January 2016 - March 2016:  RPD is working with its partners, to include the Rochester Police Locust Club, in developing a policy for the use of the Body Worn Cameras.  View Model Policy information.
  • January 2016 - July 2016:  RPD will be working with the vendor to build the infrastructure necessary for successful storage and management of the digital evidence collected from the Body Worn Cameras. 
  • April 2016:  RPD released a draft of the Body-Worn Camera Policy. (Note: Sections marked “Reserved” are part of Union Negotiations with the Rochester Police Locust Club. Appendix B is still being developed as part of the training curriculum).   View Draft RPD BWC Draft Manual. 
  • July 2016 - February 2017:  Cameras will be deployed incrementally to assure all systems work properly as we work towards full deployment. Each member who will be issued a BWC will receive training. Once the training is completed, the member will  begin using the BWC during their next scheduled tour of duty in accordance with the BWC Manual. View the Training and Implementation Schedule.
  • Click here for more project updates.
  • Media Release dated November 17, 2016.

Questions? Comments?

If you have questions or concerns about this project, please click here.