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1400 State-Issued Equipment, Photographs, and Video

1410 Use of State-Issued Equipment

CCI August 2020

Only authorized staff may use state-issued equipment, such as tablets, iPhones, and printers. State-issued equipment may be used only for DFPS business purposes. Using state-issued equipment for personal reasons is prohibited. Purchasing subscriptions or downloading unauthorized data with state-issued equipment is prohibited.

When taking photographs or video, CCI staff must use the equipment issued to them by DFPS. CCI staff may not use other devices, such as personal cell phone cameras, digital cameras, or disposable cameras.

Before using the state-issued equipment for documentation, CCI staff must do the following:

  • Be instructed in how to use the equipment.
  • Become familiar with the equipment to learn its advantages and limitations.

CCI staff must ensure the security of the equipment, both in the office and in the field, as described in the DFPS Asset Management Handbook.

1420 Using Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information as Investigative Tools

CCI August 2020

CCI staff must always notify the operation before taking photographs, audio, or video in the operation, or scanning copies of the operation’s records, except when a supervisor has determined that taking photographs or video as part of surveillance is necessary.

The primary use of photographs, audio, video, and scanned information is to document conditions that exist at the time of the investigation.

Digital photos may be useful in various circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  • When a written description alone cannot provide a clear picture of what was observed.
  • Documenting activities at an illegal operation.
  • Supporting or refuting an allegation of a possible licensing minimum standards violation during an investigation.
  • Supporting or refuting an allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation during an investigation.

Video may be useful in various circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  • Capturing a 360-degree view.
  • Walking the path the child took and showing hazards, such as traffic conditions (for investigations of neglectful supervision).

Staff may use an authorized application on the state-issued iPhone to scan documents, such as the operation’s records. Scanning records may be useful in various circumstances, including but not limited to:

  • Capturing evidence as part of an investigation (such as relevant incident reports, training records, service plans, and so on).
  • Capturing evidence of falsification of records.

1421 Using Audio as an Investigative Tool

CCI August 2020

CCI staff must inform the operation or interviewee when a visit or interview is being recorded. Recordings during an investigation must be accurate, unaltered, and without interruption.

The primary use of audio recording is to record an accurate account of what was discussed during a visit or interview.

Audio recording a visit may be useful in various circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  • Recording interviews.
  • Documenting to uphold a finding.

1422 Photographs and Video of Children

CCI August 2020

Photos and videos that include children should be taken only when there is a necessary business purpose. All media files that include children are confidential. See 8230 Confidential Information Not for Release to the Public.

Instances when taking photos of children may be useful include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Identifying the child.
  • Documenting the physical condition of the child.
  • Documenting how far a child can reach.
  • Documenting the scale of an object or area in relation to a child.
  • When moving the child or group of children to not be in the photo would disturb their activities.
  • When delaying taking the photo until a time when children are not present would delay CCI’s ability to accurately document conditions or items being photographed.
  • Documenting an injury or the lack of injury when an injury is alleged.

Instances when taking video of children may be useful include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Obtaining a more accurate picture of marks or bruises when a photo alone is not clear.
  • Recording when children are out of control and the caregiver’s response to them.
  • Recording children outside without supervision.

When photographing a child to document an injury or the physical condition of the child, CCI staff do as follows:

  • Take all photographs against a neutral, uncluttered background.
  • Attend to the lighting, focus, and distance from the child to obtain clear photographs. A camera flash that is used too close to an injury may distort the photograph and make the injury difficult to see.
  • Start by taking an identifying photograph of the child.
  • Continue by taking photographs that identify the child and pinpoint the location of the child’s injury or physical condition.
  • Follow with close-up shots of the injury.
1422.1 Taking Sensitive Photographs

LPPH December 2014

Policy

If an alleged victim’s injury or alleged injury is in a private area of the body, the investigator must assess whether taking a photograph is appropriate and necessary. The investigator takes into consideration:

  •   the age and maturity of the child;

  •   any objections by the child or parent; and

  •   whether any other evidence exists to verify the existence or extent of the injury that might make the photograph unnecessary.

If photographs are taken, a witness must be present when clothing is removed and the investigator photographs the child

If there is other evidence, such as medical reports or pictures taken by law enforcement or a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) that documents the extent of the injuries to a child's private area, then taking pictures is not necessary.

Procedure

The investigator includes the witness’s name and job title in the documentation.

If evidence other than photographs is used to document the extent of a child's injury in a sensitive area, the investigator documents that the evidence was sufficient and that photographs were not necessary.

1423 Photographs of a Facility, House, Room, or Outdoor Area

LPPH March 2014

Procedure

It is impossible for one photograph to depict an entire room without distortion.

When taking a photograph of a facility, house, room, or outdoor area, Licensing staff follow these guidelines:

a.   Plan the photographs carefully and take them from a good vantage point.

b.   Take a series of three or four photos in a clockwise sequence, covering the entire area.

c.   Take photographs from eye level to achieve the proper perspective.

d.   Photograph the general area, first, to identify a particular area that must be shown in a detailed close-up.

As an alternative, Licensing staff may take video depicting a 360-degree view of the room or outdoor area.

1424 Inappropriate Use of Photographs or Video

LPPH June 2015

Policy

It is not appropriate to use photos or video to document an operation’s:

a.   violation of the child-caregiver ratio;

b.   violation of the group size; or

c.   deficiencies in record keeping.

Such violations are best documented with:

  •   clear, concise descriptions; and

  •   copies of relevant records, when appropriate.

1425 Taking Photographs That Present Better Evidence

LPPH March 2014

Policy

To be used as evidence in an administrative review or a court hearing, a photograph must satisfy the following requirements:

a.   The subject of the photograph must be shown from a normal perspective. Photographs must be taken from a normal eye-level viewpoint and under the same lighting conditions that existed at the time of the incident, if possible.

      Avoid the distortion caused by:

  •  wide-angle lenses; and

  •  shooting from odd vantage points.

b.   The object of the photograph must be material to the case and must not incite prejudice.

c.   At least one photograph taken during the inspection or investigation must contain proof of the identity of the operation in which the photograph is being taken, such as:

  •  a sign bearing the operation’s name; or

  •  the presence of the director or owner in the photograph.

d.   The Licensing staff person taking the photographs must attest to the accuracy of the photographs.

e.   Photographs of injuries or alleged injuries must be taken in a timely fashion. See 6412 Time Frames for Face-to-Face Contact with Alleged Victims.

f.    Photographs must not be altered in any manner. The photograph must show a true and accurate account of the subject of the photograph. If enhancements are needed for clarity (such as enlarging, cropping, or brightening), Licensing staff must obtain photographic services outside of DFPS. See 1440 Printing and Destroying Digital Photographs.

1426 Overcoming an Operation’s Resistance to Being Photographed

LPPH March 2014

Policy

Licensing staff have the authority to:

  •  inspect an operation; and

  •  document the inspection of an operation.

Human Resources Code §42.044

Procedure

If the operation objects to having photographs taken of the operation or the children in care, Licensing staff:

a.   explain that Chapter 42 of the Human Resources Code allows Licensing to inspect the operation and document the inspection;

b.   explain that it can be to the operation’s advantage for Licensing to take photographs that document the situation; and

c.   explain, as appropriate, the purpose of the photographs, such as to:

i.    document deficiencies when their validity may be questioned by a supervisor,

ii.   enable adequate consultation with a supervisor, or

iii.   document that deficiencies do not exist.

If the operation is still resistant to having photographs taken of the operation or the children in care, Licensing staff consult with the supervisor.

For policy regarding allowing review of photos or audio or video recordings, see 8230 Confidential Information Not for Release to the Public.

1430 Documenting and Storage of Digital Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information for Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation Investigations

CCI August 2020

Photographs, audio, video, and scanned information for abuse, neglect, or exploitation investigations may be taken by DFPS staff or given to DFPS by an outside source.

Photographs, audio, video, and scanned information must be stored in IMPACT or in the OneCase application within IMPACT, and they must be documented as a contact in CLASS.

If the person taking the photograph, audio, or video, or scanning the information, is someone other than the investigator, the documentation must also include the name of the person who took the photograph, audio, or video, or who scanned the information. Digital photographs, audio, video, and scanned information do not replace written documentation in the case record in CLASS and IMPACT; they only supplement the narrative description.

See:

1431 Storage of Digital Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information

1432 Documenting Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information

In the Records Management Group Handbook, see 2511 Documentation of Instant Messages, Text Messages, and Voice Mails for information on handling text messages, instant messages, and voicemail.

1431 Storage of Digital Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information

CCI August 2020

As soon as possible, but no later than one day after the date that photographs, audio, video, or scanned information are taken by DFPS or given to DFPS by an outside source, the investigator does as follows:

  • Files the digital photographs, audio, video, and scanned information that were taken by DFPS according to the appropriate naming convention.
  • Uploads photos that support the disposition of allegations to the External Documents tab in IMPACT.
  • Uploads all audio recordings, video recordings, and digital photographs to the OneCase application in IMPACT.
  • Verifies that the photographs, audio, video, and scanned information are stored according to this section and that the files are playable or viewable from within IMPACT and OneCase before deleting the originals on the state-issued equipment.

Step 1: Renaming Digital Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information

Before uploading electronic files, the investigator renames each file using the following naming convention:

  • Enter the IMPACT investigation number followed by an underscore (for example, “99999999_”), followed by a number to differentiate each file.
  • If the photograph or video being uploaded is of a child or other person, CCI staff adds the first letter of the subject’s first name and the full last name after the underscore (for example, “99999999_AAdams”).

If there is only one picture, audio recording, video, or scanned document, there is no need to enter an underscore after the investigation number.

Staff do not rename photographs that are given to DFPS by an outside source.

Step 2: Saving the Digital Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information

The investigator uploads digital photographs and audio recordings to the OneCase application in IMPACT by following these steps:

  • Select Case File Location and click Launch OneCase.
  • Click Upload, select the appropriate case number from the drop-down menu, and select the appropriate file type.
  • Click to open the file browser.
  • Select files from your computer to upload.
  • Enter your DFPS username.
  • Click Upload.

Digital photographs that are the best quality and most clearly depict the evidence to support the disposition are uploaded to the External Documents page in IMPACT.

Step 3: Deleting Digital Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information from State-Issued Equipment

After verifying that the photographs, audio, video, and scanned information are stored according to this section, staff must delete the photographs, audio, video, and scanned information from the state-issued equipment.

Storage on Compact Disc (CD)

Files are stored on a compact disc (CD) in the following situations:

  • The files are not viewable or playable after being uploaded to OneCase.
  • The files are incompatible with being uploaded to OneCase.
  • The DFPS network or servers are not readily accessible.

The investigator labels the CD with the following information:

  • The name of the operation.
  • The operation number.
  • The IMPACT and CLASS investigation numbers.
  • A number to identify the specific CD, if more than one CD is needed to store all the files (for example, 1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3).

To store the CD, the investigator:

  • Places the CD in a paper sleeve.
  • Files the CD in the confidential hard copy investigation record.
  • Lists the CD on the External Documentation page in IMPACT.

1432 Documenting Photographs, Audio, Video, and Scanned Information

CCI August 2020

The investigator must document in a contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS when photographs, audio, video, and scanned information are taken or received.

The investigator documents the following information:

  • The name of the person who took the photograph, audio recording, or video or scanned the information.
  • When the photograph, audio recording, or video was taken or the information was scanned.
  • A brief description explaining the information documented in the photograph, audio recording, video, or scanned information.

1440 Printing and Destroying Digital Photographs

CCI August 2020

CCI staff print digital photographs:

  • Only as needed; and
  • When permission is granted by a CCI director, manager, or a DFPS attorney.

When printing photographs, CCI staff:

  • Preserve the original digital image and save the image as Read Only.
  • Use the DFPS-approved online photo processing service to obtain prints of digital photographs.
  • Label the prints with the following information:
    • The name and number of the operation.
    • The investigation number.
    • A brief description of the photograph.

Photographs that are taken and printed by DFPS staff are not required to be stored in the hard copy record of the investigation, since the photographs are stored in IMPACT.

When and How to Destroy Photos

If the printed photographs are not stored in the hard copy record, CCI staff must destroy them.

Acceptable methods of destruction include:

  • Shredding
  • Tearing
  • Burning
  • Pulping

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