National Association of Professional Process Servers

Should Process Servers Wear Body Cameras?

In an age where video surveillance has simply become a part of everyday life, and in a world where crime is ever-present, whether or not civil process servers should wear body cameras has come into question on more than one occasion. Though legislative attempts to require civil process servers to wear body cameras in Illinois swiftly failed, that does not mean that other representatives will not introduce similar bills in the future. Body cameras remain a controversial topic as legislators and servers alike try to navigate their position while weighing the benefits and disadvantages that come with wearing a camera while attempting service. Keep reading to learn some key facts so that you can determine if body cameras are right for you.

Can Process Servers Benefit From Wearing a Body Camera?

When it comes to effectuating service, the courts rely on a service affidavit to prove that service was, in fact, completed — and that it was done so in accordance with the law. Body cameras offer an indisputable record of evidence that can eliminate motions to quash alleging that a defendant was never served. Process servers rely on having a good record of getting the job done in order to find and secure more business. Having an extra record of the service is helpful not only for the case at hand, but it can make new clients feel more comfortable with hiring a server for additional work.

Another added benefit of wearing a body camera while on serves is that it can be a deterrent for bad behavior and eliminate would-be criminals. If an individual knows that he or she is being recorded, it may encourage them to simply accept the papers without engaging in aggressive behavior. Process server assault is unfortunately a reality that process servers must face, even despite multiple states enacting stiffer punishments on assailants, with some going so far as to make it a felony to assault a process server.

In an attempt to understand how body cameras could help process servers, one could look to how the United States has handled tensions between police officers and the public, which has escalated in recent years. Many thought a solution to this problem would be to have police officers wear body cameras. While process servers are not peace officers, it is worth noting that 34 states have legislation requiring peace officers to wear them, though their efficacy with regard to diminishing instances of excessive force and/or assault on peace officers is still widely debated.

This all sounds great — but in order to reach an informed decision, it is imperative to look at both the benefits and the disadvantages of wearing a body camera while attempting service of process.

What Are The Disadvantages of Body Cameras for Process Servers?

Unfortunately, when taking a deeper look at body cameras, there are some disadvantages that must be fairly weighed.

Although body cameras have the potential to be a benefit to process servers by serving to deter an individual from behaving aggressively, there also exists the possibility that it can aggravate an individual. Someone who sees a body camera may feel an invasion of privacy and feel compelled to act out as a result. One study showed that police officers who wore body cameras experienced a 15% increase in assaults ; however, it was unknown whether or not that was simply a result of increased reporting or an actual uptick in assault. Again, while process servers are not police officers, it is worth considering the parallel use and studies done to try and understand how body cameras affect individuals on the job.

It is also important that process servers who are considering wearing body cameras while attempting service consider both the legality and liability issues that could potentially arise as a result of wearing them. Not all states are single-consent states when it comes to audio and visual recording privacy laws, and body cameras could potentially violate that law. Violation of recording laws could come with legal consequences for the civil process server as an individual, as well as negative repercussions to the case for which they served the papers. Recording without consent when required could also make a process server vulnerable to a civil lawsuit.

Furthermore, quality body cameras and the proper, secure storage of video footage are an added expense. For many process servers who operate as independent contractors, and even for large companies that would need to supply their employees with this technology, this is an expense that could be out of budget.

Final Word?

Ultimately, there is a lot of convincing evidence to both wear and not wear a body camera while making service attempts. After weighing the benefits and disadvantages, NAPPS has taken a formal position that process servers should not be legally required to take photographs or video of serves. Unless your state passes legislation that requires you to wear a body camera, the choice is yours.

Author: Stephanie Irvine