Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 2014 NO. 8 > Nov 24 2014
  1. The Washington Privacy Act, RCW 9.73, does not require the consent of a law enforcement officer to use body cameras attached to police uniforms. A local collective bargaining agreement, however, might limit or prohibit such use.
  2. Conversations between law enforcement officers and members of the public are not generally considered private for purposes of the Privacy Act.
  3. As a general matter, the Privacy Act does not require a law enforcement officer to cease recording a conversation at the request of a citizen, because such conversations are not private to begin with.
  4. In order to use a recording as evidence in a criminal or civil case, the recording would be subject to the same laws and rules governing all evidence, including the requirement that the chain of custody be established to prove no tampering has occurred. Laws relating to the retention and disclosure of public records, including records retention schedules, would govern retention and disclosure of recordings.
  5. RCW 9.73.090 does not limit the use of body cameras to the use of such cameras in conjunction with vehicle-mounted cameras. 
AGO 1988 NO. 11 > May 20 1988

1.Communications between 911 Central Dispatch and law enforcement or fire personnel are generally not "private communications" under RCW 9.73.030, but in isolated cases could be "private."2.When a communication to 911 Central Dispatch from a citizen is interrupted or incomplete, a return call from Central Dispatch to the citizen to obtain further information may be recorded without the consent of all parties to the call.3.RCW 9.73.030(2) permits the recording of a communication from 911 Central Dispatch to a private citizen to warn of imminent danger such as fire, prowlers, or other criminal activity, if one party to the communication consents to the recording.