10.060 - Holding Cell Camera System

Effective Date: 7/12/2010


The Seattle Police Department (SPD) is committed to making reasonable efforts to monitor, via digital video imaging, individuals in the custody of SPD in areas captured by the Holding Cell Camera System (HCCS).


Establish a uniform policy regarding the administration and operation of the SPD HCCS. Further, to establish HCCS monitoring protocols, handling/storage policies, and preservation parameters.

I. Definitions

A. Holding Cell Camera System (HCCS): Refers to the stand alone camera recording system at each Department precinct that captures video footage of the individual holding cells, the holding cell common areas, the BAC areas, the Sally Port areas and the North Precinct’s evidence storage room. The video footage is then transmitted to the HCCS Dedicated Workstation where it may be viewed in real time.

B. Holding Cell Camera System Dedicated Workstation: Refers to the dedicated desktop workstation at each precinct that is solely used for viewing live footage and recorded footage captured by and contained within the HCCS.

C. Holding Cell Camera System Log Sheet (form 19.5): Refers to the log sheet that is used to document HCCS problems and whether they were corrected. The Holding Cell Camera System Log Sheet (form 19.5) will be kept at the Dedicated Workstation and is available through the Word Templates.

D. Designated Precinct Employee: Refers to precinct employee appointed by the precinct Captain, this employee will assist with HCCS maintenance, monitor & retain the Holding Cell Camera System Log Sheet (form 19.5) and assist with coordinating repairs.

II. Retention and Preservation of HCCS Footage

A. Copying HCCS Footage

1. Any internal request for copies of HCCS footage must be made in writing and directed to the SPD Video Unit for processing and the Video Unit will retrieve and copy the footage assuming it is still accessible.

a. Internal written requests can be made via email to SPD_VIDEO.

b. Requests by external sources (outside SPD) must be made to the SPD Public Disclosure Unit or the Legal Unit.

B. HCCS Retained Footage:

1. All recorded HCCS footage will be stored and retained within each precinct’s stand alone HCCS for at least thirty (30) days.

C. Preserved Footage downloaded to DVD Protocol

1. SPD reserves the right to preserve HCCS footage beyond the minimum duration stated in section II.B.

2. SPD will comply, when legally mandated, with requests for HCCS images made by internal and/or external sources so long as the request is received by SPD in a timely manner to allow for the downloading of available HCCS footage to a DVD.

D. HCCS Footage Preservation Process

1. At the time the footage is initially recorded within the HCCS, SPD employees are responsible for notifying a sergeant regarding the need to download the identified footage onto a DVD for preservation purposes and follow section II.A.1.

2. Precinct sergeants are responsible for notifying the Video Unit of the need to preserve footage via a process of downloading the footage onto a DVD in a timely manner to ensure the footage still exists. This notification can be made via email to SPD_Video.

3. If an incident may be used as a training aid or has other Department value, an officer shall advise a sergeant of the potential value. The sergeant will then determine if there is justification to preserve the footage for training or other Department purposes. If the footage is deemed to have such value, the sergeant will notify the Video Unit (SPD_Video) in a timely manner of the need to preserve the footage. The Video Unit then will schedule time to download the said footage to DVD.

4. SPD employees will not download or make copies of any recordings for personal use or any other unapproved or unofficial reason.

E. SPD reserves the right to preserve HCCS captured imagery.

III. Department Review and Viewing of HCCS

A. Employees authorized to review or view HCCS images:

1. Employees with the rank of sergeant and above have access to view live video or review recorded video.

2. Officers and detectives may request through their sergeants to view recorded video or obtain a copy of recorded video for the purpose of preparing statements or bringing the captured video to court.

B. Performance Review

1. Imagery captured by the HCCS will not be routinely or randomly reviewed to monitor officer performance. A Lieutenant or Sergeant may conduct a performance review of holding cell video imagery only when there is an articulable reason justifying such review.

2. Notice of the performance review must be provided to the subject officer and the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG), and the officer must be given the opportunity to be present with Guild representation during the review.

3. Requests for copies of recorded incidents, which will be the subject of a performance review, should be approved by the precinct/section Captain and directed to the Video Unit for processing.

C. Other Allowable Review

1. The above performance review policy is not intended to limit or restrict the Department’s review of recorded imagery as part of an official Department investigation, including matters referred to OPA Investigations Section, personnel complaints, early intervention inquiries, civil claims or other administrative investigations.

IV. HCCS Technology, Maintenance and Deactivation

A. HCCS Technology

1. The HCCS will have the capability to store a minimum of thirty (30) days of recorded footage before the existing footage will be written over with new footage captured by the HCCS.

2. The HCCS is programmed for motion-activated recording.

B. HCCS Maintenance by SPD

1. The precinct Captain shall designate a precinct employee (for example the stationmaster or precinct administrative assistant) who will periodically perform a status check of the HCCS and the HCCS Dedicated Workstation to observe whether the system is functioning as intended. The Designated Precinct Employee will monitor the Holding Cell Camera System Log Sheet (form 19.5), which will be kept in a folder or on a clipboard at the HCCS Designated Workstation.

a. Training for the Designated Precinct Employee is available via the SPD Video Unit.

b. Holding Cell Camera System Log Sheet (form 19.5) is available through the Word Templates.

c. Holding Cell Camera System Log Sheet (form 19.5) that are filled to capacity will be retained by the Designated Precinct Employee for a period of three years.

2. If operational issues are identified with the HCCS and/or HCCS Dedicated Workstation, then the area experiencing the operating issue will not be used until the HCCS issue is resolved, assuming this is reasonable and does not compromise and/or violate officer safety, prisoner safety and/or SPD Manual protocols. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

a. The HCCS operating issue will be documented on the Holding Cell Camera System Log Sheet (form 19.5) and a lieutenant or above will be notified. A lieutenant will coordinate with the HCCS Designated Precinct Employee to contact the Video Specialist at the SPD Video Unit regarding the reported issue.

C. HCCS Deactivation and Use Exception

1. The HCCS may not be deactivated unless it meets at least one of the following criteria:

a. A HCCS system failure or Dedicated Workstation failure occurs.

b. A HCCS Dedicated Workstation operational issue exists.

c. An administrative reason exists.

d. Maintenance is scheduled for the HCCS and/or HCCS Dedicated Workstation.

2. Discretion shall be exercised during an authorized strip search and the administration of medical treatment, etc. at which time such tasks may be conducted in a manner that avoids being captured by the HCCS. NOTE: Additional responsibilities are outlined for sergeants in section VI.A.2 of this policy.

3. If deactivation or interruption occurs, a lieutenant shall be notified and the deactivation logged.

4. Deactivation of the HCCS does not prevent an officer from taking appropriate police action or using any area, and it is not intended in any way to protect any person from criminal apprehension and/or provide a basis for the exclusion of evidence.

V. Prisoner Housing and Notice

A. Housing of Prisoners

1. Sworn employees are responsible for housing in-custody individuals in areas monitored by the HCCS when reasonable.

B. Recording Notice to Prisoners

1. The areas digitally captured by the HCCS should have signage that serves as notice to prisoners that the area he or she is being held in is being video recorded.

Note: The RCW authorizes the video recording of citizens during law enforcement officer contacts. If a prisoner objects to being recorded by the HCCS a SPD employee will not deactivate or avoid the HCCS covered area unless an allowable reason for deactivation or use exception exists as covered in section IV.C.

VI. SPD Responsibilities

A. Sergeant Responsibilities

1. Sergeants and above may log into the HCCS Dedicated Workstation to view live feed or to review previously captured video in the HCCS system.

2. Sergeants will ensure adequate steps are taken to protect the privacy of people in custody who are subject to an authorized strip search or the administration of medical treatment. At which time said actions may be conducted in a manner that avoids being captured by the HCCS.

B. Lieutenants and Above

1. Lieutenants and above will ensure that:

a. Sergeants have established familiarity regarding the use of the HCCS.

b. Sergeants adhere to established policies and procedures regarding the HCCS.

c. Notification of repairs, damaged or nonfunctional HCCS equipment, to include HCCS Dedicated Workstation, is relayed to the HCCS Designated Precinct Employee in a timely manner, and

d. Officers and Sergeants are aware of the ability to identify footage that may have preservation value. Once it has been determined that there is a need to preserve footage, notify the SPD Video Unit by email.

C. System Administrator

1. SPD Video Unit is the system administrator of the HCCS. The Video Unit will be responsible for responding to and documenting all requests for viewing or copying captured images. The Video Unit will be responsible for administering HCCS retention policies.

2. The Vendor will assist each precinct with setting user rights, adding/deleting users, password control, and reporting on system utilization based upon SPD standards for each.

D. Video Unit Responsibilities

1. Video Unit personnel shall complete vendor provided HCCS training.

2. Act as HCCS Administrator.

3. Dispose of preserved footage at the end of the three-year preservation period. At the conclusion of that time period, the preserved imagery will be deleted by the Video Specialist at the SPD Video Unit unless circumstances warrant a longer retention as per SPD Legal Advisor, i.e. litigation, etc.

4. Respond to and document all requests for viewing and/or copying of HCCS footage.

a. Public Disclosure Requests (PDR’s) for HCCS footage are to be submitted and processed at the SPD Records Unit window, 610 5TH Avenue. An established fee will be charged for providing copies of recordings.

5. The Video Unit will have a workstation located at the Video Unit that will enable review and copying of recorded HCCS footage.

6. The Video Unit may use its workstation for purposes of copying and disseminating footage in response to a written request for footage assuming it still exists.

E. HCCS Designated Precinct Employee Responsibilities

1. Provide periodic status check of HCCS functionality.

2. Arranging for repair of the HCCS with the vendor by coordinating with the SPD Video Unit.

3. Maintain adequate supplies for the HCCS (clipboards, log sheets, signs, etc).

4. Monitor the Holding Cell Camera System Log Sheet (form 19.5) and retain completed log sheets.

F. Information Technology Section Responsibilities

1. Maintaining HCCS Dedicated Workstations.

2. Coordinating repair of SPD provided equipment items.