The Brownsville Police Department (TX) utilizes the Axon ecosystem as a method of video recording police officer activity. As per policy, the body worn camera is activated with any citizen contact, self-initiated activity, and dispatched calls for service.

The Department conducts an audit of body worn camera/dash camera on a weekly basis. An internal automated computer software randomly selects five videos for review. An assigned Sergeant on the morning shift conducts the review (the purpose for this is to facilitate communication with higher administration should an issue be discovered, different Sergeants get experience with the random review process, and to help minimize potential immediate supervisor bias).

The random review process was launched in order for the Department to be in compliance with the Sandra Bland Act (State mandate which requires a review process for footage taken by body worn cameras). A report is generated in order to document the random review process. At the end of the year, these reports are submitted to Dr. Alejandro Del Carmen with the Institute for Predictive Analytics in Criminal Justice as part of a broader racial profiling report.

In addition to the state mandate, the random review process allows for the Sergeant to address potential officer safety issues, training issues, procedure issues, and policy issues. Furthermore, in addition to the random review process, Patrol Sergeants and Investigations Sergeants are asked to review their personnel body worn camera footage after major operations or as needed.

Body worn camera footage, dash camera footage, or any kind of available video footage is also reviewed in officer involved complaints, officer involved commendations, officer involved accidents, officer involved injuries, officer involved vehicle pursuits, and use of force.

When certain criteria are met, the body worn camera review process will begin either at the immediate supervisor level going up the chain of command (Sergeant, Lieutenant, Commander, Chief of Police) along with an administrative report or at the Internal Affairs Division at the order of the Chief of Police as per the collective bargaining agreement.

The software utilized for the review process in either scenario will be via Benchmark Analytics. The report is generated by the subject police officer, who documents his/her actions (use of force, vehicle pursuit, etc.) and forwards it up the chain of command.

Upon receiving the report, the Sergeant uploads all relevant video footage (body cam, dash cam, building cam, etc.) into the system along with crime report if applicable (assisting officer supplements, etc.). The Sergeant submits preliminary findings with recommendation to the Lieutenant. The Lieutenant does the same and submits the report to the Commander, and the Commander continues the process and submits the report to the Chief of Police.

Upon review, the Chief will make the determination whether the investigation requires Internal Affairs review, requires discipline, policy or procedure change, employee assistance program, performance improvement plan, or just simply closes the file if in compliance or if it merits commendation. Even if not sent for further Internal Affairs review, this file is still sent to IA so that it can be filed away and logged in (also reviewed for any potential errors at any level).

If Internal Affairs gets the case for further review, the file is thoroughly reviewed for any potential criminal element and/or policy/procedure violations, or anything missed/errors. The case gets further investigated following all due process steps stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement and civil service rules. Findings along with a recommendation is submitted to the Chief of Police. The Chief of Police will then adjudicate the case.

If the subject officer does not agree with the Chief’s decision, he/she can appeal the decision within 10 days to the Civil Service Commission or an Arbitrator (depending on discipline).

If a criminal element is met, our Criminal Investigations Unit, the Texas Rangers or the F.B.I. will handle the criminal investigation.