Union representing Orange County deputies sues department over body camera policy

The Orange County Sheriff's Union is suing the department over changes to its body camera policy.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office recently updated its body camera policy to pre-record one minute of audio, in addition to video after the record button is pressed.

When an Orange County deputy starts their shift, their body cameras are put in standby mode but are not recording just yet. When the deputy pushes the record button, the body camera will record the video and audio one minute prior to when they hit the button.

The union has agreed to one minute of pre-recorded video, but not audio. The union president tells FOX 35 he believes it's an invasion of privacy. The union has filed a lawsuit against the department over the changes.

"As a result of these changes, deputies and citizens will be exposed to having their voices and conversations recorded at unexpected, random and unpredictable times," said Jeff Stinson, the president of the union representing Orange County deputies. 

The Orange County Sheriff's Office says the purpose of the change is to be more transparent.

"It’s become apparent that additional audio would assist investigators in obtaining a more complete picture of our deputies’ interactions with the public," said Sheriff John Mina. "One of the reasons for this change is to capture audio and video in high-stress, critical incidents, where the deputy needs to react immediately to save their life or someone else’s and may neglect to turn on their cameras until that critical first moment has passed."

Deputies are required to wear body cameras during their shift and turn them on in specific instances including but not limited to traffic stops, pursuits and arrests. 

If a deputy does not follow the requirement, they could face verbal reprimands, demotion and/or termination.