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RPD: Body Worn Camera Program

Program Background

In order to improve police-community relations, the Rochester Police Department (RPD), created the RPD Body-Worn Camera (BWC) initiative.

The City of Rochester engaged in extensive research on equipment, data management, policies and community involvement for successful deployment of the program. All Rochester Police Lieutenants, Sergeants and Officers presently assigned to patrol Sections are equipped with BWCs. There are about 500 BWCs assigned to patrol personnel.

The RPD has entered into various partnerships to ensure the project’s success. This includes critical components within the City from Information Technology, Budget and Law, as well as partnerships with the District Attorney and Public Defender offices and Civilian Review Board. Most significantly, the program 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.

RPD BWC Policy/Manual

The RPD continues to develop policy that directs the use of BWCs by its members. These policies are stated in the RPD BWC Manual which is used for training and implementation of the BWC program. Based on comments and suggestions by RPD personnel, community organizations and other stakeholders, this manual continues to be reviewed and amended.


Previous Versions

BWC Program Goals

  • Full deployment of BWCS to Officers who regularly interact with the public in enforcement capacities.
  • Improve the quality of public service and promote the perceived legitimacy, sense of fairness and procedural justice the community has about the RPD.
  • Improve management of digital multi-media evidence (DME) to ensure identification, retention and accessibility of DME that is relevant to enforcement activities and the conduct of RPD officers.
  • Incorporate the BWC program into the 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.

Project History and Updates 

 The BWC initiative took into account the following 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

The RPD’s BWC Project Team completed a Request for Proposal (RFP) 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 the vendor, which began the implementation phase of the project. From January 2016 to March 2017, the RPD worked to deploy 500 BWCs to its patrol personnel. 

The BWC team will regularly post project updates HERE. Follow this link for additional information on the program and to provide any INPUT you may have.

Project History Timeline 

  • January 2014: RPD began research on the use of BWCs to understand program costs and best practices. 
  • December 2014: Mayor Lovely Warren, Chief Michael Ciminelli and Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo jointly announced that the RPD will implement a BWC Program. 
  • April 2015 - June 2015: City Council conducted a survey seeking public opinion regarding RPD officers being outfitted with BWCs. Results of the survey can be found here. 
  • June 2015: 
  • July 2015:  The City issued an RFP, requesting vendors to give detailed options for providing BWCs, 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: The RPD is awarded a $600,000 federal grant to fund the program. 
  • November 2015 - December 2015: The City held five public meetings 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: City Council approved the selection of MES Lawmen Supply Company as the BWC vendor. 
  • February 2016: City and MES Lawmen agreed to terms, signing a contract. Several meetings were held to identify tasks to be completed for successful implementation of the BWC Program. 
  • January 2016 - March 2016: RPD worked with the Rochester Police Locust Club in developing policy for the use of BWCs. View Model Policy information. 
  • January 2016 - July 2016: RPD worked with the vendor to build the infrastructure necessary for successful storage and management of the digital evidence collected from BWCs.  
  • April 2016: RPD released an initial draft of the BWC policy. (Note: Sections marked “Reserved” are part of Union Negotiations with the Rochester Police Locust Club. Appendix B is being further developed as part of the training curriculum). View Draft RPD BWC Draft Manual. 
  • July 2016 - February 2017: BWCs were deployed incrementally to assure all systems work properly prior to full deployment. Each member was issued a BWC and received training for its use. Once training was completed, members began using their BWC 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 the BWC Program, please click here.