As reported in a recent study, police officers who are equipped with body cameras receive 93% fewer complaints from the public. With this positive data, police departments across the country are implementing the use of remote body cameras. Police in Toledo, Ohio have tested new body cameras and have decided on the Getac version, while the police department in Lawrence, Kansas is preparing for a rollout of cameras with planned testing.
The Toledo Police Department (TPD) have had police body cams in the past, but they had to return to the station to upload the footage, losing valuable time when they could have spent on the street. Their new cameras will allow the videos to be synced and downloaded while they are in their vehicles.
These older cameras had technical issues as well and were not compatible with the TPD computer system. The TPD had to return all 304 body cameras. With their new cameras, officers have access to a 24-7 hotline to have any issues with the body cameras fixed quickly. The department is also planning on ordering spares to have on hand when their remote body cameras go down.
According to Toledo Police Sgt. Kellie Lenhardt, a big push for the body cameras comes from the need to hold officers accountable. Sgt. Lenhardt says that the Toledo police chief is committed to transparency when it comes to community relations.
In Kansas, The Lawrence Police Department has a similar goal. They will be holding a testing period for body cameras between September and November, and they've already started preparations to begin the testing.
According to Police Capt. Trent McKinley, department members met with various camera vendors in early August. The top three vendors will move to the test and evaluation phase, and the department has planned to test between 10 and 12 cameras from each vendor. They are planning on testing a variety of cameras, including different mounting and activation options and devices that can tie into their existing in-car cameras.
The city of Lawrence has budgeted approximately $500,000 for implementing its body camera program. This budget includes funds to purchase the cameras and roughly $45,000 for a technician who will begin work later in the year. The remote body cameras will cost about $462,000, and half of that will be funded by a federal grant from the U.S. Justice Department.
As a contingency of the grant, the Department of Justice requires the Lawrence Police Department to have a comprehensive policy development process. McKinley says that their policy is still being devised and they continue to communicate with the Department of Justice as they seek approval before the test and evaluation phase.