George F. Hildebrandt
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How to avoid police body camera mistakes

People across the nation debate the use of police body cameras. A body camera is a relatively new device in law enforcement's arsenal of tools. A police officer wears the small camera clipped to his or her uniform, helmet or safety glasses to record video and sound when necessary.

You may never meet an officer with a body camera, but you might want to read the body camera policies of the New York Police Department to understand your rights. A body camera need not be a threat to you unless you panic or give the officer any reason to detain you. To avoid mistakes, keep your actions neutral and adjust your behavior according to your surroundings.

How to act when you are driving

If you are next to a vehicle driven by an officer wearing a body camera, look straight ahead and continue to drive responsibly. If the officer signals you to pull over, cooperate immediately. Never argue with the officer. Do not admit guilt.

How to behave when you are walking

If you are on a sidewalk and an officer equipped with a body camera passes by, do not attempt to hide your face or dodge inside the nearest store. Do not give the officer a reason to think you have something to hide. Instead, continue to your destination. Do not glance at the officer or the body camera.

How you should act in a building

If you are in a public building and an officer with a body camera approaches and speaks to you, respectfully acknowledge the comment. Before answering any questions, ask the officer in a polite voice if he or she is detaining you. If the answer is no, then you are free to walk away.

Remember, the body camera will not record an officer's intimidating behavior, but it will record your responses. If you look nervous, fearful, angry, shocked or dismayed, these facial expressions can make you appear guilty. Keep your face and voice relaxed and neutral. Remain calm at all times. Never act or speak defensively. Follow these suggestions and you can avoid most mistakes that result in unpleasant body camera issues in court.

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