CSU Police Provides Area Agency Leaders With Training on Officer-Worn Camera Systems

BodyCam03Columbus, Ga. — For years, police officers have had cameras inside their patrol cars. But for agencies such as CSU Police – whose officers spend a lot of time outside a car – officer-worn cameras are becoming part of the modern uniform.

Because CSU police officers have been using officer-worn cameras for about five years, a group of chiefs, sheriffs and marshals met at Columbus State University Tuesday to learn more about these cameras at a Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police district meeting. CSU training division staff was on hand to discuss some key considerations for the successful implementation of this technology at their agency. The training session discussed privacy issues, policy considerations, integrity of multimedia evidence, budget planning and technical requirements for an officer-worn camera program.

“As an agency, our officers spend a lot of time outside of their vehicles and we realized several years ago that we needed to develop a plan to address the contacts and situations that the officers encountered,” said Columbus State University Police Chief Rus Drew. “We have seen this across the United States as a rapidly evolving trend over the last few years.”

BodyCam02Lt. Jeremy Reddish led much of the discussion, talking about the evolution of these devices and of how the officer-worn camera market now has a selection of products geared toward the needs of law enforcement officers. “We wanted to share some of our lessons learned with other agencies in hopes that the information would aid in equipping more officers with this technology,” Reddish said. “When we started our program, most products were sports-style cameras that were adapted for police use, now products are being developed specifically for our job.”

Implementing an officer-worn camera program comes with a myriad of challenges. An agency must select a product that meets the needs of their officers. Products come with different features and can be worn in different manners, including clipped to an officer’s uniform shirt or worn like eyeglasses to record the officers’ perspective, Reddish said. Depending on the length of an officer’s shift, battery life and storage capacity are also critical things to consider.

“Since the cameras record incidents and criminal investigations, the footage has to be treated like any other form of evidence,” Drew added. Agencies must determine secure locations for data storage and must also develop practices to maintain the electronic chain of custody and integrity of files. Some products even allow agencies to purchase secure cloud storage and maintenance of their files.

BodyCam01CSU Police are currently upgrading their officer-worn camera program. They are transitioning to a more advanced camera platform, which is more durable, is equipped with low-light infrared settings to better record at night, and allows officers to take video and still images from the same device.  In addition, they are installing a secure in-house server for the storage of multimedia evidence, utilizing a software package that aids officers in uploading their multimedia files and revamping a policy for the use of their cameras. The upgrades should be completed in December 2014.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATON, PLEASE CONTACT: Lieutenant Jeremy Reddish, Phone: (706) 507-8911