I've seen numerous videos of people getting arrested in the USA, both in their cars on the road and at their homes.

Apparently, cops wear always-running cameras at all times these days, not just mounted on their cars (which is bad enough from a privacy perspective).

Does this really apply to ALL cops? Do they actually have the audacity to film me and store that footage forever and make it available to the public if they pay me a visit at my home and knock on the door and ask me questions about whatever?

Or is it only a certain "segment" of cops, such as those frequently involved in violent encounters on the road or where they suspect that there will be a shootout at the house where they knock on the door?

  • 3
    There isn't even uniformity of body-cam policies within most individual police departments, let along across all jurisdictions in the U.S.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 3, 2020 at 17:33
  • 1
    "Do they actually have the audacity to film me..." Many communities demanded bodycams to prevent police abuses. Many police initially objected. Many police found out that having bodycams running helped exonerate them from false complaints against them. Bodycams can actually protect both the police and the public by providing objective evidence of encounters. They aren't perfect tools, but they almost certainly provide net benefits. Dec 3, 2020 at 19:56
  • Related (or part of an answer to the question. please advise): I just asked law.stackexchange.com/questions/73606/…? I found your question while searching for "bodycam", only 6 questions. Oct 11, 2021 at 22:24

1 Answer 1



It is decided state-by-state (for state-wide agencies like state troopers), and county by county, and city-by-city whether or not to buy and use cameras. Also, they are not usually always running. Policies as to when officers are required to turn them on vary as well as when the public and the involved officers get access to the recordings.

  • 5
    As an aside, the United States has arguably the most decentralized law enforcement system in the world. No other country of which I am aware both vests such as large share of its law enforcement officers in independently elected local governments and so little in the national government. Even within state and local government, the lion's share of law enforcement is below both the state level and the county level of government in municipal, town, and township governments. There is also only modest regulation of local law enforcement by the state and federal governments.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 3, 2020 at 17:29
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    In some body-cam situations the cameras are running continuously, but keeping only the last minute or so of images. When triggered by the wearer, the camera stops overwriting and saves continuously. Hence the ability to turn on the camera before you know you need it...
    – DJohnM
    Dec 3, 2020 at 19:20

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